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"Chaque Frangaise travaille pour 1'avenir et accumule pour la postrit, 
retranchant me'thodiquement sur son bien-etre et sur son plaisir, ce qu'il 
faut pour le bien-etre des generations futures et les benders qu'il ne connaitra 
pas." M. GABRIEL HANOTAUX (" Le France Contemporaine "). 










First Published . . . May, 1905 
Second Edition . . . July, 1905 


M. B.-E. 

SOME of these papers have appeared in the Cornhill 
and other Magazines, to the Editors and Proprietors 
of which I here make due acknowledgment. My best 
thanks are also due to the numerous French friends 
who have helped me in the matter of facts and figures, 
and to the artists who have so graciously lent photo- 
graphs of their works. 























MESSIEURS LES DEPUTES . . . . . . . .113 











































INDEX .... 301 



MARRIAGE Frontispiece 

By H. Gervex. Photograph by Brawn, Clement & Cie. 


By Madame Delacroix-Gamier. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 

Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


By P. A. J. Dagnan-Bouveret. Photograph by Braun, Clement & Cie. 


By Jules Breton. Photograph by Braun, Clement & Cie. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Madame Bovary) 109 

By H. Brispot. Photograph by Braun, Clement & Cie. 




By M. tAbbt van Helltbeke. 

Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan, 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by F. Braun, Royan. 


Photograph by Clouzot, Niort. 






THE first turning of a French door-handle is symbolic. 
Just as we lower the knob to the left, our neigh- 
bours raise it to the right, so we may safely take 
it for granted that everything done across the water is 
performed after a fashion directly contrary to our own. 
Domestic arrangements, social usages, rules of etiquette are 
pleasantly criss-cross, divertingly unfamiliar, neither more 
nor less than antipodal. Twenty-four hours spent under a 
French roof may be described as a perpetual process of 
dishabituation. The merest bagatelle is invested with 
novelty. Unaccustomed ways and surroundings make it 
difficult to believe that French and English are separated 
by an hour's sea journey only ; that in clear weather France 
and England contemplate each other face to face. Nor on 
further acquaintance does this impression vanish. Many 
of our countrymen, like the late Mr. Hamerton, have made 
France their home. But in their case it is dissimilarity that 
fascinates. In the very least like the home left behind, a 
French fireside can never be. 

Let us begin with the guest-chamber of a well- 
appointed house. Our first notion is that a bed has just 
been put into a boudoir or drawing-room for our accommo- 
dation. Not a single object suggests a room in which we 
B i 

not only sleep, but go through the various processes of the 
toilette. We soon discover that one handsome piece of 
furniture, as closely shut as a piano with the lid down, is 
a washstand ; another, equally delusive at first sight, is a 
dressing-table ; or, maybe, a panel reveals a tiny dressing- 
closet, the said panel never under any circumstances what- 
ever being allowed to remain open during the day. 

Most things in France have a historic explanation, and 
the fashion of receiving visitors in one's bedroom was set 
by royalty. Sully describes how one morning Henri 
Quatre waked up his " dormouse " the snoring Marie de 
Medici by his side, in order that she might hear what the 
minister had to say. The Sun-King allowed himself farther 
licence, and held solemn audiences in his garde-robe. Ver- 
sailles, vast as it was, had no space for private salons; 
courtiers of both sexes could only be at home to visitors 
in their bedrooms. 

The habit has not wholly died out. I have at different 
times spent many weeks with old-fashioned folk living near 
Dijon, the household consisting of three families living 
under one roof. On the first chilly day a fire would be 
lighted in the grandmother's bedroom, and thither we all 
adjourned for a chat or a game of whist. If neighbours 
dropped in, no apology was offered for receiving them thus 

Another custom handed down from generation to gene- 
ration is that of employing men in housework. In private 
interiors, as well as in hotels, men often supply the place of 
housemaids, at any rate up to a certain point. They sweep 
the rooms, polish the floors, and brush velvet-covered 
furniture. In Balzac's works, these domestics are often 
mentioned. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
valets de chambre not only acted the part of housemaids, 
but of ladies' maids ; they arranged their mistress's head- 
dress and hair, and aided her in the adjustment of hoops 
m&fallalas or flounces. Perhaps the fact of Frenchwomen 


in former days always being dressed, never dressing them- 
selves, accounts for the indifference to the looking-glass. 

It has ever been a standing marvel to me that our 
sisters over the water have their bonnets straight and their 
coiffure irreproachable. In the matter of mirrors they are 
worse off than Pompeiian ladies with their metal substitutes. 
A French sleeping apartment abounds in reflectors ; never 
by any chance can you see yourself properly. A looking- 
glass invariably surmounts the mantelpiece, but so obscured 
by ornamental timepiece and branched candelabra as to be 
absolutely unavailable. There will be looking-glasses here, 
looking-glasses there ; for one that answers the purpose 
for which it was intended you seek in vain. With regard 
to downiness, elasticity, and cleanliness the French bed is 
unsurpassed, every year or every two years the mattresses 
being opened, picked over, and aired. The only drawback 
is height, a bed being often as difficult to get at as the 
upper berth of a ship's cabin. 

In a French house no prevailing savour of fried bacon 
between eight and nine o'clock a.m. announces the family 
breakfast. Your tea or coffee and roll are served whilst you 
still luxuriate on your pillows. Rousseau pronounced the 
English breakfast to be the most charming custom he found 
here. The French habit has much to recommend it. Our 
hosts are left to themselves, and our own day is begun 
without effort or fatigue. A French home, moreover, is 
seldom adapted for a house party. The cosy morning 
room, the library, and smoking-room are only found in 
palatial dwellings. What would a lady do, for example, 
with three or four visitors in a Parisian flat ? 

The next experience of a French household is its 
extreme animation with apologies to my friends I will 
say noisiness. An English band of housemaids is mouse- 
like in its movements. Passages are swept and dusted, 
breakfast-room, schoolroom, servants' hall are prepared for 
the morning meal in almost unbroken silence. No sooner 


are shutters thrown open in France than a dozen sounds 
announce the resumption of work, the return to daily life. 
Men and maids laugh, talk, or dispute at the top of their 
voices ; master and mistress shout orders ; children make 
a playroom of corridors. The general effervescence might 
lead a modern Voltaire's Inge"nu, or the counterpart of 
Montesquieu's Persian, to suppose that in France taciturnity 
is heavily taxed. 

The prevailing quietness of an English interior equally 
surprises a French new-comer. The late Alphonse Daudet 
resented such tranquillity. To an interviewer he unflatter- 
ingly compared the silent, reserved London home with the 
life of a Parisian flat : from an open window a piano heard 
there ; from an open door voices heard here ; folk chatter- 
ing on the stairs ; not a storey without animation and 
movement. On the other hand, some of our neighbours 
fall in love with our own domestic quietude and seclusion 
only the family circle housed under a single roof; no in- 
quisitorial concierge watching one's going out and coming 
in ; last, but not least, no servants shut out at night, sleep- 
ing in attics perhaps three or four storeys above that of 
their employers. 

Drawing-rooms differ from our own no less than bed- 
rooms. In France furniture, as well as laws, customs, and 
social ordinances, has closely followed tradition. A Parisian 
salon still recalls the stilted seventeenth century, the 
remorselessly formal epoch of Madame de Sevigne. Under 
the next reign slight modifications were introduced. The 
straight-backed, ironically-called fauteuil or easy-chair of 
Louis XIV., upright, solemn, and uncomfortable as a throne, 
was replaced by an armchair with cushions, and of more 
reposeful make. The fauteuil Voltaire was a further im- 
provement. Sofas, settees, footstools followed suit ; but 
French upholstery still sacrifices ease to elegance. The 
comparison of Maple's showroom in the Boulevard de la 
Madeleine with that of a Parisian rival shows the difference. 


Then, arrangement is different. French visitors in 
England are surprised at what, for want of a better word, I 
will call the " at-homeness " of our own drawing-rooms 
in one corner the mistress's writing-table, in another a case 
of favourite books ; on the table, library volumes, reviews, 
and newspapers ; music on the open piano, doggie's basket 
by the fireplace, a low chair or two for the children ; on all 
sides evidence of perpetual occupation. 

A French salon must not so unbend ; domesticities 
within such precincts would be held out of place. A semi- 
circle of elegant elbow chairs, or bergeres, face the high- 
backed sofa, on which sits the lady of the house when at 
home to friends. Rugs sparsely break the expanse of 
polished floor ; consoles, brackets, and cabinets impart a 
museum-like aspect. The French salon of course, with 
exceptions however much it may dazzle the eye, does not 
warm the heart. 

The dining-room calls for no comment, but table 
arrangements offer novelty. Except in homely, old- 
fashioned, and modest households dishes at the twelve- 
o'clock dtjeuner, now often called lunch, are invariably 
carved by the servants and handed round. The free-and- 
easy etiquette of an English family luncheon has not as 
yet been followed. One peculiarity of non-official French 
meals is the rule regarding wine. It is never the butler 
or footman, always the host and hostess or a lady's table 
companion, who offer wine, a decanter being placed by 
every alternate cover. The custom doubtless arises from 
the habit, now fallen into complete disuse, of toasting one's 
next-door neighbour. The position of glass or glasses is 
another important point. These are always placed im- 
mediately in front of your plate ; never at the right hand, 
as with ourselves. A friendly hostess explained to me 
that this position is a precaution against accidents ; but as 
dishes are always served on the left side, I do not quite see 
the force of her argument. 


A luncheon party, or formal dfy'euner, is a much more 
protracted and formal affair than on our side of the water. 
Coffee having been served, the company return to the 
drawing-room, but not to chat for five minutes and disperse, 
as with us. The men disappear for the enjoyment of 
cigarettes ; the ladies indulge in what is called a causerie 
intime, or talk of business, children, and family affairs. 
French ladies, be it recalled by the way, never smoke. 
The habit is entirely left to the Bohemian and the un- 
classed. The early dtjeimer hastens on the hour of calls. 
Visits, alike ceremonial and friendly, are generally made 
between one and two o'clock. The late M. Cherbuliez, 
with whose warm friendship I was honoured, always chose 
that time for his long delightful chats. 

Afternoon tea, as I have already mentioned, is rather 
made an excuse for social reunion than regarded in the 
light of a habit or necessity. Most often friends invite 
each other to one of the numerous " five o' clocks," now a 
feature of Parisian hotels. The children's gouter, or lunch 
of bread and chocolate, is eaten here, there, and everywhere. 
Two meals, and two meals only, have French cooks to 
trouble their heads about during the twenty-four hours. 
And here I would observe that, although among English- 
speaking cosmopolitan French people the second dejeuner 
is often called lunch, ordinarily the term designates the 
light and elegant repast taken later in the day at two or 
three o'clock, for example, in the case of weddings, at four 
or five in that of garden parties. Tea is now appearing at 
le lunch de Vaprh midi. In country houses informal 
refreshments are taken out-of-doors, upon such occasions 
young ladies not disdaining beer with their brioche, or 
light sweetened bread ; there tea is very seldom made. 

We now come to the all-important subject of dinner. 
Here etiquette is exceedingly precise. Dr. Johnson would 
never have had to complain in France that somebody's 
dinner was all very well, but " not a dinner to invite a 


man to." Critical of the critical, and in no matter more 
so than in that of gastronomy, French hosts will always 
make quite sure that their dinner is worth inviting a 
man to. 

I well remember a dejeuner to which I was invited some 
years since by an ex-Minister of Public Instruction and his 
wife, only one other guest and two or three members of 
the family making up the party. My fellow-guest was a 
Russian, my hosts were Lorrainers, and, as a delicate 
compliment, the three principal dishes fresh-water fish, 
venison, and gaieties (a kind of pancake) were all local 
dainties, and all exquisitely cooked after local fashion. 
Such little attentions lend a grace and charm altogether 
unpurchasable to any banquet. The invitatory compliment 
is thereby doubled. By offering you the choicest products 
of his especial corner of France, your host seems to enter- 
tain in a double capacity to represent his province as well 
as his household. 

I will now say something about etiquette. In a civili- 
zation so ancient and so elaborate as that of France the 
cult of manners would naturally hold a prominent place. 
So far back as 1675 social usages were inculcated in a 
manual by Antoine de Courtin, "Trait de la Civilite" qui 
se pratique en France, parmi les honnetes gens." Three- 
quarters of a century later appeared another work on good 
manners, " Civilit pue'rile et honnete, par un missionnaire," 
more especially adapted to the young ; and from that date 
numerous works of the kind have been issued. 

One curious feature of French etiquette is the direct 
opposition of many rules to our own, in every case the 
divergence being explicable. With ourselves an introduc- 
tion entitles a lady to acknowledge or not as she pleases a 
presentee of the other sex. Precisely an opposite rule 
holds good in France ; here, as in so many other instances, 
custom following tradition. Louis XIV. never encountered 
a washerwoman or chambermaid without raising his hat. 


An Englishman respectfully salutes a lady of his acquaint- 
ance. A Frenchman, following the example of the Roi 
Soleil, pays indiscriminate homage to the sex ; he would 
never dream of addressing a shop assistant or a concierge 
without such a salute. Under no circumstance whatever 
must a lady in France take the initiative ; it is for a man 
to proclaim himself her leal servitor, for her to accept his 
obeisance. An introduction in a friendly drawing-room 
authorizes indeed, obliges a gentleman to acquaint him- 
self with the lady's day and hour of reception, and then to 
present himself. 

Tradition may also be traced in the etiquette of calls. 
In England, whenever new-comers settle in a country town 
or village, it is for residents to leave cards or not as they 
please. In France the case is different ; with new-comers 
rests the option of proffering intercourse. The purchaser 
of a chdtea^i or villa is not called upon by his neighbours ; 
he calls upon those whose acquaintance he wishes to culti- 
vate. I think the reversal of our own rule may be explained 
in this way. What is called villadom in England is a world 
that has sprung up outside the close ring of ancestral 
manors. With the French campagne or country house it is 
otherwise. As M. Rambaud has pointed out (" Histoire de 
la Civilization Francaise "), it was in the seventeenth cen- 
tury that Parisians, following royal fashion, began to build 
elegant retreats for the villtgiature. These new residents 
in country places belonging to the same class as the old, 
there would naturally be no scruple about making acquaint- 
ances. A minor matter shows the hold of tradition upon 
French etiquette. It strikes us oddly to receive letters 

signed " Bien affectueusement a vous, Comtesse de R " 

(" Very affectionately yours, Countess of R ") ; or, 

" Votre bien deVoue", Marquis de X " (" Yours very 

sincerely, Marquis of X "). But the usage is historic. 

Thus great ladies and gentlemen of the seventeenth century 
inscribed themselves when writing to friends. 


Many other instances might be cited. Customs which 
to English notions appear artificial, even ridiculous, look 
quite differently when studied from the standpoint of laws, 
institutions, and religion. 

The long and elaborate formula with which letters are 
wound up afford an example. Instead of "Yours faith- 
fully " or " Yours truly," we find a circumlocution as follows : 
" Be so good as to permit me to express the assurance of 
my most sincere devotion and respect." But the habit is 
merely a survival of exaggerated court etiquette, and the 
long string of compliments in which English critics discern 
French insincerity has no kind of meaning whatever. The 
same may be averred of many set phrases, well-worn locu- 
tions that suited the artificial times in which they were 
framed, but are incongruous on modern lips. In what is 
called society, that is to say, the circumscribed area still 
wedded to tradition, the thee and thou of familiar inter- 
course is discarded in public. The middle and upper middle 
ranks, on the contrary, still adhere to the pretty quakerish 
fashion. Among lifelong friends of both sexes, too, the 
vous is discarded for the more intimately affectionate tu 
and toi. There is no hard and fast rule. In some country 
places you will even hear peasant children address their 
parents by the more formal second person plural, a usage 
which has survived the " sir " and " madam " of our Georgian 
epoch, and probably originating in the autocratic nature of 
parental rule. The use of the third person singular by 
domestics and subordinates is another survival of the 
ancien regime and caste. 

A French maid does not say, "When would you like 
your bath, ma'am ? " but " Madame, when would she like 
her bath ? " " Madame, does she intend to wear this ? " 
" Monsieur, will he take this ? " and so on and so on, the 
vous being studiously omitted. 

On this subject I append a good story. When winter- 
ing in Brittany many years ago, a French friend, whilst 


engaging a young nursemaid, informed her that she must 
always address her in the third person singular. The 
damsel heard in silence, but on going to the kitchen 
blurted out to the cook, her future fellow-servant, " What 
in the world does madame mean ? The third person 
singular! I know no more what she is driving at than 
a new-born baby. M. le Cure" has often spoken to me 
of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but of the third person 
singular, never." In those days Brittany was the least- 
instructed province of France. Such ignorance could not 
anywhere be matched at the present time. 

One curious Parisian institution is the ambulatory bath. 
I was staying with French acquaintances in the Avenue 
Villiers, when one afternoon I heard a tremendous lumber- 
ing on the front staircase, such a clatter and commotion, 
indeed, that I opened my door in alarm. "It is only 
madame's bath," said the maid-of-all-work, smiling as she 
threw wide the outer door. Straightway was wheeled 
inside an enormous bath, attendants following with cans of 
water and heating apparatus. A quarter of an hour later 
my hostess was enjoying the long drawn out luxury of 
plenteous immersion. The indulgence enjoyed during the 
greater portion of the afternoon cost, I believe, only three 
or four francs. 

The ambulatory bath may often be seen in transit 
through Paris streets, and must be a great boon to invalids 
and involuntary stay-at-homes. Excellent public baths 
exist in every quarter, but except in the most luxurious 
modern flats and hotels, bath-rooms are non-existent. 
Veteran Parisians can still remember the time when the 
water-supply of Paris was performed by hand, Auvergnats 
carrying pailsful to regular customers at a penny per pail. 
The more prosperous of these made their rounds with a 
donkey and cart bearing a barrel. 

A historian I have frequently cited, M. Rambaud, grace- 
fully acknowledges the impetus given to baths and bathing 


in France by English example. "We borrowed many 
things from England" (1814-1848), he writes, "not the 
least valuable being bodily cleanliness, a habit of copious 
ablutions, personal hygiene, that had made scant progress 
during twenty-five years of military campaign." At the 
present time our neighbours are ardent devotees of le tub ; 
tuber is now conjugated as a verb. 




FRENCH housekeeping may be described as the 
glorification of simplicity, a supreme economy of 
time, outlay, and worry. Nothing more conspicu- 
ously exemplifies the ply of the French mind. In no other 
field is so well evidenced French love of method, economy, 
and mental repose. 

I will first describe a day's housekeeping in Paris, the 
household consisting of nine or ten persons, four of whom 
are domestics, less than half the number that would be 
found necessary in England. Having sent cups of tea or 
coffee and rolls upstairs, and prepared coffee for the kitchen, 
the cook is free to go to market. Her fellow-servants help 
themselves to coffee from the hob and bread from the cup- 
board, each washing up his or her bowl when emptied. 
The milkwoman has deposited her can of milk, the baker 
has brought the day's huge supply of bread. No one will 
have business with the kitchen bell till next morning. 

French meals, it must be remembered, are practically 
reduced to two ; no elaborate breakfasts after English 
fashion, no nursery or school-room dinners, no afternoon 
teas. The wet-nurse dismissed, Be"be takes its place at the 
family board. The fashionable world certainly indulges in 
what is called a " five o'clock," but rarely, if ever, at home. 
The tea restaurant is a favourite rendezvous, and tea- 
drinking is strictly confined to its patronesses. In modest, 



middle-class homes, the pleasantest meal of the day with 
us is quite unknown. 

We will now follow our cook on her errands. Having 
taken orders from the mistress, she sets forth provided with 
two capacious baskets or string bags. As there are no 
tradesmen to call for orders, neither fishmonger, green- 
grocer, butcher, nor grocer, she can take matters easily, 
which in all likelihood she does. The French temperament 
is not given to flurry and bustle, and a daily marketer will 
naturally have a vast acquaintance. 

But our cook will ofttimes fill her panniers nearer home 
than even at the nearest market. 

A pictorial and heart-rejoicing sight is the Paris street 
barrow, ambulatory cornucopia piled high with fruit, flowers, 
and vegetables, the fertility of the most fertile country of 
Europe here focused on the city pavement. Small wonder 
if the caterer halts before one of these, tempted by freshest 
of green things in season salads, herbs for flavouring, 
sorrel for soup, asparagus, artichokes or peas for her 
entremets. A halt, too, she will very likely make at a fruit 
barrow, providing herself with the dining-room dessert 
luscious little wild strawberries (/raises de quatre saisons), 
melons, figs, whatever happens to be at its best. 

But the day's provision of meat, poultry, fish, butter, 
and eggs has to be found room for, and in all probability 
she will conclude her purchases at the market, her joint or 
joints of meat wrapped in paper being consigned to the 
bottom of a pannier, lighter commodities lying on the top. 
Both receptacles being filled to the brim, she returns home, 
doubtless with aching arms, but well pleased to have en- 
joyed the fresh air and opportunities of chat. Thus it will 
be seen that in a French household the process is not, as 
with ourselves, one of elaboration, but the very reverse. 
The day's budget becomes as much a thing of the past as 
the day itself. There is no fagot of little red books for the 
mistress to look over and settle once a week, no possibility 


of erroneous entries, no percentage paid for the booking 
and sending of goods. 

And our cook, having only four meals to prepare, in- 
stead of her English colleague's half-score, can concentrate 
all her energies upon these. 

The dinner, in French domestic economy, is as the sun 
to the planets. Every other operation is made subservient 
to it, every other incident revolves round it. For with our 
French neighbours the principal repast of the day is not 
merely a meal, it is a dinner. This nice distinction is 
happily indicated by the following story. A French friend 
was describing to me the fare of an English country inn 
and praising the day's fish, roast duck, and pudding ; " But," 
she added as a rider, " it was a meal, not a dinner." 

The mid-day dejeuner, now called lunch in fashionable 
society, is comparatively an insignificant affair, not deemed 
worthy of a tablecloth ! Lunch, even in wealthy houses, is 
served on the bare table, and I must say that highly 
polished oak, mahogany, or walnut admirably set off plate, 
crystal, and flowers. We are all more or less slaves to 
conventionality and habit, and the things we deem be- 
coming and appropriate are most often the things with 
which we are familiar. 

That nice distinction just quoted indicates the relative 
importance of dinner in France and England. The minute 
care, indeed, bestowed upon the preparation of food by our 
neighbours is almost incomprehensible among ourselves. 
French folks, alike the moderately well off and the rich, 
are never satisfied with a meal. They must end the day 
with a dinner. 

Irrespective of economy both in catering and cookery, 
it may safely be averred that the one French extravagance 
to set against a thousand English extravagances is the 
dinner. It is the only case of addition instead of subtrac- 
tion when balancing French and English items of daily 
expenditure. And the charm of French dinners, like the 


beauty of Frenchwomen, to quote Michelet, is made up 
of little nothings. The very notion of preparing so many 
elaborate trifles for the family board would drive an 
English cook mad. But " Lucullus dines with Lucullus " 
is a French motto of universal acceptance. Plutarch tells 
us that the great Roman art collector and epicure thus 
admonished his house-steward, who, knowing one day that 
his master was to dine alone, served up what my French 
friend would call a meal, not a dinner. 

Michelet says somewhere that the French workman, 
who comes home tired and perhaps depressed from his 
day's work, is straightway put in good humour by his plate- 
ful of hot soup. For " Lucullus dines with Lucullus " is a 
maxim of the good housewife in the humblest as well as 
the upper ranks. 

Those well-filled panniers represent one kind of economy, 
the national genius for cookery implies another. In buying 
direct from the market a certain percentage is saved. 
Again, a French cook turns any and every thing to advan- 
tage, and many a culinary chef-d'ceuvre is the result of care 
and skill rather than rare or costly ingredients. With just 
a pinch of savoury herbs and a clear fire, a cook will turn 
shreds of cold meat into deliciously appetizing morsels, 
gastronomic discrimination on the part of her patrons 
keeping up the standard of excellence. If I were asked to 
point out the leading characteristic of the French mind, I 
should unhesitatingly say that it is the critical faculty, and 
to this faculty we owe not only the unrivalled French 
cuisine, but pleasures of the table generally. Here is one 
instance in point. One quite ripe melon, to the uninitiated, 
tastes very much like another. But a French country 
gentleman knows better. Whenever a melon of superlative 
flavour is served, he orders the seeds to be set aside for 
planting. Thus the superlative kind is propagated. The 
critical faculty warring with mediocrity and incompleteness 
is ever alert in France. 


I now turn to the subject of household management 
generally. Here, also, we shall find startling divergences. 

A distinctive feature in French households is, as I have 
said, the amount of indoor work done by men. When the 
great novelist Zola met his death so tragically, it will be 
remembered that two men-servants one of these a valet 
de chambre, or house-servant had prepared the house for 
the return of master and mistress. Apparently no woman 
was kept except, perhaps, madame's maid. This is often 
the case. 

In England the proportion of men to women indoor 
servants is as one to three or four ; in France the reverse is 
the case, parlour-maids being unknown, and the onefemme 
de chambre being ladies' as well as housemaid. The work 
mainly falls upon the men. They sweep, dust, and, in 
short, supply the place of our neat maidens in spotless 
cotton gowns. The fact is, had French valets no sweeping 
or dusting, they would often have to sit for hours with their 
hands before them. One element entailing a large staff of 
servants here is absent in a French house. This is the 
staying guest, the uninterrupted succession of visitors. 
Outside private hotels and the handsome flats of the 
fashionable quarters, there is indeed no room in Parisian 
households for friends. The words "dine and sleep" or 
"week-end" visits have not found their way into French 
dictionaries, nor have dine-and-sleep or week-end guests 
yet become a French institution. Of family parties in 
chateaux and country houses I shall have something to say 
further on. It is easy thus to understand why three or 
four servants suffice, whilst in England a dozen would be 
needed for people of similar means and position. De- 
scending the social or rather financial scale, coming to 
incomes of hundreds rather than thousands a year, we 
must still subtract and subtract. Where three or four 
maids are kept in England, a general servant is kept in 
France, and where a maid-of-all-work is put up with here, 


French housewives do without a Tilly Slowboy or even 
a Marchioness. 

Whilst officials, alike civilian and military, receive much 
lower pay in France than in England, whilst professional 
earnings are much less, we must remember that taxation is 
higher and commodities of all kinds are dearer across the 
water than among ourselves. But economy is not always 
a matter of strict obligation. What we call putting the 
best foot foremost does not often trouble our neigh- 
bours. They prefer to look ahead and provide against 
untoward eventualities. 

A habit of parsimony is sometimes whimsically 

The home is an Englishwoman's fetish, her idol. Both 
the wife of an artisan and the mistress of a mansion will 
be perpetually renovating and beautifying her interior. 
Like themselves, decoration and upholstery must be in 
the fashion. 

In France the furnishing and fitting up of a house is 
done for once and for all. It is a matter of finality. English 
middle-class folks, who eat Sunday's sirloin cold for dinner 
on Monday and perhaps Tuesday, spend more upon their 
homes in a twelvemonth than French folks of the same 
standing throughout the entire course of their wedded 

May not the fact of so little being spent upon the house 
occasionally arise in this way ? The husband has the 
absolute control, not only of his own income, but of his 
wife's, and many men would prefer shabby carpets and 
curtains to what might appear to them as unnecessary 

The French character, to quote that original writer and 
sturdy Anglophile, M. Demolins,* is not apt at spending. 
Here, he says, his country-people must go to school to the 

* " A-t-on interet a s'emparer du pouvoir?" Paris: Finnin-Didot. 


Even where elementary comfort, even bodily health, is 
concerned, thrift is the first consideration. When Rabelais 
jovially apostrophizes un beau et clair feu, " a good bright 
fire," he expresses the national appreciation of a luxury, 
for outside rich homes a fire is regarded rather as an 
indulgence than as a necessity. Fuel in France is 
economized after a fashion wholly inconceivable to an 
English mind. When a French lady pays visits or goes 
abroad shopping, her fire is let out and relighted on her 
return. Many women fairly well-off make a woollen shawl 
and a foot-warmer do duty for a fire, except perhaps when 
it is freezing indoors. 

I once spent a winter at Nantes, and during my stay 
kept my bed with bronchitis for a week. 

" You have burnt as much fuel during your week in bed 
as would suffice many a family for the whole winter," said 
the lady with whom I was lodging, to me. Yet Nantes 
enjoys an exceptionally mild climate. What my con- 
sumption of wood would have been at Dijon I cannot 

Housekeeping implies mention of the housekeeper. 
A Frenchwoman is the direct antithesis of a German 
Hausfrau, She is not, like Martha, troubled from morning 
till night about many things. Dust and cobwebs do not 
bring a Frenchwoman's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. 
The scrupulosity attained in English houses by the usual 
army of house and parlour maids is never aspired to by 
French matrons. 

Some years since I lunched with acquaintances in a fine 
country house, rather a modern chateau, within an hour 
and a half by road and rail of Dijon. The house-party, all 
members or connections of master and mistress, numbered 
twelve. It was the long vacation, and a further indication 
of the sumptuary scale is afforded by the existence of a 
private chapel. Whether or no a priest was attached to 
the house as a private chaplain I know not. There was 


the chapel, a new, handsome little building, standing in the 

As I chatted with my hostess on the terrace after lunch, 
the topic of housekeeping came up. 

"A rather onerous position," I said, "that of mistress 

She smiled. " So I imagined it must be when, on the 
death of my husband's parents, we came to this place. But 
I made up my mind not to let things trouble me in fact, 
to let the house keep itself, which it does, and does well 

" Admirably," I ventured to add ; and, indeed, my 
experience convinces me that most French houses keep 
themselves. The German Speisekammer, or store-room, in 
which a Hausfrau spends half her day, does not exist in 
French dwellings. A Frenchwoman, moreover, is far too 
much the companion of her husband to have leisure for 
such absorption in spices, jams, and the rest 


The following figures and calculations have been 
supplied by experienced French householders. Although 
a quarter of a century ago I spent an unbroken twelve- 
month in Brittany, and since that period have passed a 
sum-total of many years on French soil, I have always 
lodged under native roofs and sat down to native boards. 
Whilst pretty well acquainted with the cost of living among 
our neighbours, I could not authoritatively parcel out 
incomes, assigning the approximate sum to each item of 
domestic expenditure. Friendly co-operation alike from 
Paris and the provinces has enabled me to prepare these 
pages. For the convenience of readers I give each set of 
figures its equivalent in our money. I add that the 


accompanying data have all reached me within the last few 

We may assume that where English officials, pro- 
fessional, naval and military men, and others are in receipt 
of .500 or ;6oo a year, their French compeers receive or 
earn deputy's pay, i.e. 90x50 francs, just 360 ; adding 1000 
francs more, we obtain a sum-total of .400 a year. Such 
incomes may be regarded as the mean of middle-class 
salaries and earnings, and whilst these are much lower than 
in England, living is proportionately dearer. Hence the 
necessity of strict economy. Very little, if any, margin is 
left for many extras looked upon by ourselves as necessities 
of existence. Take, for instance, an extra dear to the 
British heart, the cult of appearances, Dame Ashfield's 
ever-recurring solicitude as to Mrs. Grundy's opinion in the 

So long as reputation, and the toilette, are beyond 
reproach, a French housewife troubles her head very little 
about standing well with the world. Feminine jealousy is 
not aroused by a neighbour's superiority in the matter of 
furniture, or what is here called style of establishment. 
The second extra, this an enviable one, is the indulgence 
of hospitality. An English family living on 500 a year 
spend more on entertaining friends during twelve months 
than a French family of similar means and size would do 
in as many years, and for the excellent reason that means 
are inadequate. Our neighbours are not infrequently mis- 
judged by us here. We are too apt to impute inhospitality 
to moral rather than material reasons. 

We begin, therefore, with the mean that is to say, 
incomes of 10,000 francs, i.e. .400 a year, and of persons 
resident in Paris. Here is such a budget: parents, two 
children old enough to attend day-schools or lycees, and 
a servant making up the household. 


Income 4 

Rent 60 o o 

Taxes 74 

Food and vin ordinaire of three adults and two 

children 149 

Servant's wages 16160 

Two lyce"es or day-schools 32 o o 

Dress of four persons 60 o o 

Lights and firing 24 o o 

Total .... 346 o o 
Balance for doctors' bills, travel, pocket-money, 
amusement, etc 54 o o 

The amount of taxation seems small, but it must be 
borne in mind that food, clothing, medicines, indeed almost 
every article we can mention, are taxed in France. 

The sum-total of 7 4s. covers contributions directes, i.e. 
taxes levied by the state and municipality directly and 
quite apart from octroi duties. Rents under 20 in Paris 
and 8 in the provinces are exempt. Municipal charges 
are always on the increase. A friend living at Passy has 
just informed me that her tiny flat, consisting of two small 
bedrooms, sitting-room, and kitchen, hitherto costing 28 
a year, has just been raised to 32, and it is the same with 
expensive tenements. 

The following figures will explain the apparently 
disproportionate sum-total expended on the table alike in 
Paris and, as we shall see further on, throughout the 
provinces. Butter, in what is pre-eminently a butter- 
making country, costs from is. $d. to 2s. 6d. a pound (the 
French livre of 500 grammes is I Ib. 3 ozs. in excess of our 
own). Gruyere cheese, another home-product, from is. to 
is. ^d., chickens from is. ^d. to 2s. per pound weight, milk 
$d. a quart, bread 2d. a pound, meat (according to joint) is.2d. 
to is. 6d. and 2s. Fruit grown on French soil is double 
the price at which it is sold in England. Thus bananas 
and oranges, grown by the million in Algeria, cost 2d. each. 


Coffee is from 2s. to 2s. 6d., tea from 2s. 6d. to 6s., sugar 
$d. to 6d. a pound. The penny bun that delight of child- 
hood is unknown in Paris. The brioche or madeleine, 
little cakes half the size of the penny bun, cost \\d. each. 
A currant cake, under the weight of a 6d. one here, costs 
is. $d. These are current prices. The result of such high 
prices is that French householders find it easier to reduce 
any item of expenditure rather than that of the table. In 
the case of persons living alone the cost is naturally higher. 
Thus my correspondents assure me that such caterers for 
themselves only cannot live in Paris under 2s. 6d. a day, 
this sum covering plain diet only, with a very moderate 
allowance of vin ordinaire.* The extra \d. on bread is 
a serious matter to an essentially bread-eating people, 
three pounds (i.e. 3 Ibs. 4^ ozs.) being the daily con- 
sumption of the average Frenchman. 

The low-priced restaurants of business quarters doubt- 
less mislead many travellers. I should say that the 
plateful of roast beef or mutton supplied with potatoes for 
is. in the Strand contains at least a third more nutriment 
than the tempting little dish offered with a hors d'ceuvre 
for i s. $d, on the boulevards. The hors d'ceuvre I expatiate 
upon lower down. 

The average cost of a Frenchman's plain lunch and 
dinner at a quiet, well-ordered house of the better sort, 
with tips, cannot be under $s. or 6s. a day. I allude to 
officials of standing compelled by their avocations to break- 
fast and dine at an eating-house. 

The wages set down in the foregoing table seem 
excessively moderate for Paris, but, as my correspondent 
informs me, the fact of keeping a servant at all under such 
circumstances implies very great economy in other matters. 
A parallel budget that is to say, the yearly expenditure 

* In M. Bourget's new novel with a purpose (" Un Divorce "), in describing 
the life of a poor lady studying medicine in Paris he sets down the cost of her 
food at cheap restaurants at something like I per week. 


of a similar family with a similar income allows a more 
liberal margin for food, no domestic being kept. 

Wages of good servants are high in Paris ; the cost 
of a capable maid-of-all-work, including board, washing, 
wages, and New Year's gifts, cannot be calculated, my 
friend assures me, at less than 60 a year. Thus many 
families of the middle ranks do with the occasional services 
of a charwoman, thereby economizing at least ,40 annually 
for other purposes. 

Fuel is another onerous item of domestic expenditure. 
Writing from Paris on February 24, 1894, a householder 
informed me that good coals cost 2 i6s. the ton. No 
wonder that in moderate households firing is economized 
as in the home of Eugenie Grandet. 

And many French temperaments seem positively invul- 
nerable, appear to be cold proof by virtue of habit, or, maybe, 
heredity. I know a Frenchwoman whose happy immunity 
it is never to feel cold. No matter the weather, she needs 
neither fire, foot-warmer, nor warm clothing. A certain 
French physique exists, matchless for hardiness and powers 
of resistance. 

The dearness of combustibles is equalled in other 

From a postage stamp upward there are neither penny 
stamps nor halfpenny postcards in France we may safely 
assume that every commodity costs a third more on the 
other side of the Channel. 

Spills and spill-cases are as obsolete in England as the 
tinder-boxes and snuffer trays of our great grandparents. 
But lucifer matches since 1871 have been a state monopoly 
in France. Whereas we get a dozen boxes for 2%d., our 
neighbours still pay id. for one, and that one containing 
lights of an inferior kind. A match is never struck by 
French people when a gas jet and a spill are available. 

Drugs and patent medicines are incredibly dear. No 
wonder that every country house and cottage has its store 


of home-made simples and remedies. Some eighteen 
months since, I fell ill in Paris, and a friendly physician 
prescribed for me. One week's remedies ran up to i. 
Four shillings were charged for a dozen cachets, composed 
of a similar substance which would, a chemist informed me, 
have cost just two here. 

Little wonder also that families with an income limited 
to 300 or ^400 a year cannot afford even a Tilly Slowboy, 
whilst an outing to the sea or the country during a long 
vacation is equally out of the question. My first corre- 
spondent informs me that, unless paternal hospitality is 
available, Parisians so situated would very seldom get a 
holiday away from home. Fortunately, many folks have 
some farmhouse of parents or grandparents to retreat to 
in the dog days. 

A considerable item in remaining sum-totals is that 
of ttrennes, or New Year's gifts. We grumble at being 
mulcted when Yuletide comes round. What should we 
think of 100 francs, 4, a year for Christmas boxes out of 
an annual ^"300 or ^"400 ? Yet the unfortunate French, 
rather we should say Parisian, householder, whose income 
is much lower, must set aside at least 100 francs for the 
inevitable etrennes. There is the concierge, to begin with, 
that all-important and not always facile or conciliatory 
janitress of Parisian blocks. Fail to satisfy your concierge 
when New Year's day comes round, and you must be 
prepared for small vexations throughout the year. 

Next to concierge, maid-of-all-work, or charwoman, come 
postman, telegraph boy, gas or electric-light employes, 
baker, milkwoman, and the rest, New Year's gifts reaching 
a much higher figure in proportion to means than among 
ourselves. The ttrennes make an appreciable hole in small 

Tips are also high, and as Parisians who are narrowly 
housed and unprovided with servants do their scanty enter- 
taining in restaurants, such items help to limit this kind 


of hospitality. In fact, of all luxuries in Paris, that of 
feasting one's friends is the most costly. 

I will here say something about dress. The sum of 
60 in the foregoing tabulation allows 20 each for husband 
and wife, half that sum for each child, say a boy and a girl 
attending day-schools. 

As Frenchwomen in such a position are always well 
dressed, the question arises, how is the matter managed ? 

In the first place, if from her earliest years a French 
girl is taught the arch importance of la toilette, with equal 
insistence is inculcated economy in the wearing. 

Thus the schoolgirl, whether at school or preparing 
her lessons at home, will always wear a black stuff bib 
apron for the proper protection of her frock, with sleeves 
of the same material tied above the elbow. The first- 
mentioned article is particularized -in the prospectus of 
the lycte. Boarders at these colleges created by virtue 
of the Ferry laws of December, 1880, as at convent 
schools, are compelled to wear a neat and serviceable 
uniform. The prospectus of the Iyc6e of Toulouse shows 
that among the articles of apparel must be two aprons of 
black woollen material, cut according to a given pattern, 
the object being to protect the two costumes made by a 
dressmaker under the lady principal's orders. It is not 
only the cost of materials, but of dressmaking, that necessi- 
tates such care. As an inevitable consequence of dear 
food and lodging, dressmakers and seamstresses are obliged 
to charge proportionately for their labour. The chamber- 
maid of a hotel in Paris I sometimes stay at, lately told 
me that she could not get a Sunday gown made under i. 
" And," she added, " seeing what a young woman has to 
pay for her room, let alone provisions, I could not ask her 
to take a halfpenny less." 

A French lady must not only never be shabby, she 
must never be out of fashion. Oddly enough, one of 
the wittiest sayings on this subject was uttered by an 


Englishman. " No well-dressed woman ever looks ugly," 
wrote Bulwer Lytton a saying, or rather a conviction, 
taken to heart in France. 

I well remember an illustrative instance. Calling some 
years since on a very moderately paid official at Grenoble, 
I was received by his wife, a decidedly ordinary-looking 
and slovenly young woman, wearing a dingy morning wrap. 
Her husband soon entered. Madame left us to discuss 
farming matters, ten minutes later looking in to say adieu. 
Like Bottom, she was wonderfully translated. In her pretty 
bonnet and elegant, if inexpensive walking costume, her 
hair becomingly arranged, bien chausste et gantte, well shod 
and gloved, she looked almost lovely. But at what cost 
of time and ingenuity such toilettes are obtained only such 
a Frenchwoman could tell you. 

The economical have recourse to the maison de patrons, 
or pattern shop. Ladies living in the country send measures 
to these Parisian houses and obtain patterns of the latest 
fashions, either in paper or canvas. With the help of a 
clever needlewoman, hired by the day, dresses can thus be 
made to look as if they had just come from the boulevards 
or the Rue Royale. 

As we should naturally expect, the cost of living is 
considerably less in the provinces. Here, for instance 
supplied me by another correspondent is the budget of 
a similar family, i.e. husband and wife, two children, and 
a woman servant, having an income of 8000 francs, or 
300 a year 

t. d. 

Rent and taxes 36 o o 

Servant's wages 14 8 o 

Food, five persons 100 o o 

Dress for four persons, two adults and children . 48 o o 

Two lyce'es or day-schools 20 o o 

Firing, lights, laundress 32 o o 

250 8 o 
Balance left . . 70 o o 


These items represent expenses of living in a cathedral 
town 2000 miles from Paris. Here certain articles of daily 
consumption are considerably cheaper. Meat at Dijon 
costs 8dl to is. the pound, butter 8*/., fruit and vegetables 
are lower in price ; rent also and education. Thus we 
find a difference of 12 in the cost of two Iyc6es, or day- 

The same correspondent has calculated the balance of 
similar income and tantamount charges in Paris. The 
discrepancy is suggestive. Allowing 48 for rent and 
taxes, 120 for food, 48 for dress, and so on in pro- 
portion, she found that just 21 would remain for amuse- 
ments, medical attendance, and extras generally. 

The next budget is the weekly one of a married employ^ 
or clerk in Paris, having one child aged six, his entire 
income being 160 a year. Every item has been set 
down for me as from a housewife's day-book, and, in 
addition to figures, I have a general description of daily 
existence economically considered. 

f. t. d. 

Food and wine . . . . . . . 112 

Rent 911 

Dress 111 

Firing 36 

Lights and laundress 5 10 

Amusements, stationery, and personal expenses 

generally 5 10 

Weekly total . . . . 2 17 4 
The year of fifty-two weeks . 149 i 4 

Balance 10 18 8 

I will now state precisely what is obtained for this 
outlay describe, in fact, how the little family lives. 

In the morning they take coffee, with bread and butter, 
followed at midday by dtjeuner, consisting of meat, vege- 
tables, and what is called dessert, namely, fruit, with per- 
haps biscuits or cheese. At four o'clock madame and the 


child have a roll and a bit of chocolate, and at half-past 
six or seven the family sit down to dinner, or rather supper, 
soup, vegetables, and dessert, often without any meat, 
constituting the last meal of the day. 

On Sundays is enjoyed the usual extra de dimanche of 
the small Parisian householder. Our friends lunch at 
home ; then, alike in summer and winter, they sally forth 
to spend the rest of the day abroad. Winter afternoons 
are whiled away in music-halls, bright warm hours a few 
miles out of Paris, dinner at a restaurant, coffee or liqueur 
on the boulevards finishing the day. 

The expense of these Sunday outings sometimes 
amounts to 8s. or ios., an indulgence often involving de- 
privations during the week. 

Except among the rich, hospitality in Paris, as I have 
already remarked, is reduced to the minimum. Never- 
theless folks living on 3000 or 4000 francs a year will 
occasionally entertain their relations or friends, and, owing 
to two agencies, that of the hors d'oeuvre and the rotisseur, 
at very small cost and trouble. 

Thrift, indeed, in France often wears an engaging 
aspect ; the sightly becomes ancillary to the frugal, and 
of all elegant economies the hors d'ceuvre, or side dish, 
served before luncheon, is the most attractive. Whether 
displayed on polished mahogany or snowy linen, how 
appetizing, and at the same time how ornamental, are 
these little dishes, first-fruits of the most productive and 
most assiduously cultivated country in the world tiny 
radishes from suburban gardens, olives from Petrarch's 
valley, sardines from the Breton coast, the far-famed rillettes 
or brawn of Tours, the still more famous pat^s of Perigueux, 
every region supplying its special yield, every town its 
special dainty, pats of fresh butter and glossy brown loaves 
completing the preparations ! 

Until lately I had regarded the hors d'ceuvre on luncheon 
tables of modest households as a luxury, an extravagance 


of the first water. A French lady has just enlightened 
me on the subject. 

"The hors d'oeuvre an extravagance!" she exclaimed. 
"It is the exact reverse. Take the case of myself and 
family, three or four persons in all. We have, say, a small 
roast joint or fowl on Sunday at midday, but always begin 
with a hors d'ceuvre, a slice of ham, stuffed eggs, a few 
prawns, or something of the kind. As French folks are 
large bread-eaters, we eat so much bread with our eggs 
or prawns that by the time the roast joint is served, 
the edge of appetite is taken off, and enough meat is 
left for dinner. So you see the hors d'ceuvre is a real 

The rotisseur, or purveyor of hot meat, soups, and 
vegetables, plays as important a part in Parisian domestic 
economy as in the play of Cyrano de Bergerac. You are 
invited, for instance, to dine with friends who keep no 
servants. On arriving, your first impression is that you 
are mistaken in the day. No savoury whiffs accord gastro- 
nomic welcome. Through the half-open kitchen door you 
perceive the tiny flame of a spirit-lamp only. Nothing 
announces dinner. But a quarter of an hour later, excellent 
and steaming hot soup is served by a femme de manage 
or charwoman, the obligatory side dish a vegetable and 
rdti follow ; the rotisseur in the adjoining street has enabled 
your hosts to entertain you at the smallest possible cost 
and to the exclusion of anything in the shape of worry. 
Quiet folks, also, who like to spend Sunday afternoons 
with friends or in the country, and who prefer to dine at 
home, find the rdtisseur a great resource. They have only 
to order what they want, and precisely to the moment 
appears a gdte-sauce, or cook-boy, with the hot dishes piled 
pyramidally on his head. 

We will now consider the budget of an artisan, skilled 
workman, or petty clerk (employ^ subalterne], whose weekly 
wages amount to 40 francs, i.e. 32$. ; the average, I am 


assured, at the present time. A friend at Reims has made 
out the following tabulation : 

*. <t. 
Weekly income 1120 

Food of four persons, two adults and two children 

aged from 5 to 10 years 16 10 

Lodging 40 

Clothes and house linen 17 

Shoes 10 

Lights and firing 15 

Pocket-money of husband, newspapers and 

amusements 47 

Total 193 

Balance 29 

This little balance, my correspondent informs me, will 
be spent upon the various Soctitis de Prtvoyance and Secottrs 
Mutuels, associations, answering to our own working-men's 
clubs, and to the system of the post office deferred annuities. 
The bread-winner's pocket money supplies his tobacco, 
occasional glass of beer or something of the kind, his daily 
newspapers, the monthly subscription of fivepence to a 
Bibliothtque populaire, or reading-club, and the family extra 
de dimanche, an outing on Sundays by rail or tramway, or 
tickets for the theatre. Presumably, also, although this 
item is not mentioned, the father of a family, as in Eng- 
land, provides himself out of this argent de poche with boots 
and best clothes. 

At Reims, as elsewhere in the provinces, we must take 
into account that living is much cheaper than in Paris. 
Thus in the former city coals, all the year round, cost 
is. 8< the sack of no Ibs. (50 kilos), vin ordinaire $d. the 
litre or if pint, beer 2\d. the litre. Garden and dairy 
produce is also cheaper. Lodgings which would cost .18 
or 20 a year in Paris can be had for 10 or 12 in pro- 
vincial cities. Education is non-sectarian, gratuitous, and 
obligatory throughout France. Even the bulk of what is 


called fourniture scolaire> i&. copybooks, pencils, etc., is 
supplied by the richer municipalities. But in the eyes of 
anxious and needy mothers the primary school is ever an 
onerous affair. Watch a troop of youngsters emerging 
from an tcole communale, many belonging to well-to-do 
artisans and others, many to the very poor. From head 
to foot one and all will be equally tidy, black linen pina- 
fores or blouses protecting tunics and trousers. With girls 
we see the same thing. A Frenchwoman, however poor, 
regards rags as a disgrace. 

One highly characteristic fact pointed out by my Reims 
friend I must on no account omit. It seems that the work- 
ing classes throughout France, from the well-paid mechanic 
to the poorest-paid journeyman, invariably possess a decent 
mourning, or rather a ceremonial, suit. Thus every man 
owns black trousers, frock-coat, waistcoat, necktie and 
gloves, and silk hat. He is ready at the shortest notice to 
attend a funeral, assist at a wedding, or take part in any 
public celebration. Every working woman keeps by her a 
black robe, bonnet, and mantle or shawl. When overtaken 
by family losses, therefore, even the very poor are not at a 
loss for decent black in which to attend the interment. The 
scrupulously cared-for garments are ready in the family 

My correspondent adds the following table of actual 
salaries and wages in this great industrial city : 

Head clerks (employes principaux) in the champagne and 
wine trade, from 160 a year upwards, with a percentage 
on sales ; in the woollen trade the same figures hold good 
small clerks (petits employes) from 4 to 8 per month ; 
clerks and assistants in shops from 3 4-y. to 6 per 
month ; workmen in manufactories $s. 2d. to 4.?. per day ; 
masons and plasterers 4^. yd. per day, or from ^d. to 8d. 
per hour ; foremen in factories from 6s. 6d. to js. per day ; 
women in factories 2s. to 2s. 6d., and boys is. 8d. to 2s. 6d. 

The writer further informs me that, although the Benefit 


Society, Prevoyant de PAvenir, is very prosperous, the situa- 
tion of the working man, on the whole, is unsatisfactory. 
Too many are in debt for rent and other matters. The 
explanation doubtless lies in the tariff of cheap stimulants 
and intoxicants appended to these figures : absinthe, eau de 
vie de marc, and aperitifs divers. The drink evil is now in 
France, as with us, the question of the hour. 

The tabulated budgets of workmen, living respectively 
in Paris and Dijon, supplied by a friend, will show that 
even with much lower wages the Dijonnais is considerably 
better off. 

*. d. 
Thus the yearly wages of the first at \ 13*. jd. 

per week amount to 87 6 4 

His expenses 83 4 o 

Leaving a balance of 424 

The yearly wages of the second at ^i 4^. 

amount to 62 8 o 

His expenses 56 o o 

Leaving a balance of 680 

The Parisian's rent for one or two rooms will cost him 
iS yearly ; the food of himself, wife, and two children 
47, clothes 12, and so on in proportion ; whilst the pro- 
vincial, similarly situated, will economize 6 on rent, 17 
on food, 4. on clothes. 

If three persons in Paris, having an income of as many 
pounds a week, can only afford meat once a day, how small 
must be the butcher's bill of the working classes ! In most 
cases, alike in Paris and in the provinces, a man's wages 
are supplemented by earnings of his wife. An experienced 
lady writes to me on this subject 

" The condition of the working-man's home depends 
absolutely on the wife. Generally speaking, a wife adds at 
least 12 a year to the family income, and she not only 
manages to maintain the household in comfort, but to lay 
by. Economy is the supreme talent of the French mknaglre." 


The adroit Parisienne can turn her hand to anything. 
Ironing, charing, cooking, call a mother away from home. 
Indoor work is found for agile fingers. 

The lounger in Paris, especially in old Paris, will un- 
expectedly light upon these home industries, the means by 
which working women supplement their husband's earnings. 
I was lately visiting a doll's dressing warehouse near the 
Rue de Temple, when my companion, a French lady, 
called my attention to a certain window. The tenement 
was that of a humble concierge, doorkeeper of an ancient 
house let out as business premises. On a small deal table 
immediately under the uncurtained and wide open case- 
ment for the weather was hot lay a heap of small circular 
objects in delicate mauve satin and swansdown. What 
they might be I could not conceive. " See," said my com- 
panion, taking up one of the articles, " here is one of the 
home industries you were inquiring about just now. This 
good woman earns money in spare moments by making 
these envelopes for powder-puffs ; m all probability they 
will be wadded and finished off with a button by another 
hand, or maybe at the warehouse. Many women work in 
this way for toyshops and bazaars." 

The marvel was that the little bags of pale mauve 
satin and swansdown should, under the circumstances, 
remain spotless. Put together at odd times, heaped on a 
bare deal table which looked like the family dinner-table, 
not so much as a newspaper thrown over them, all yet 
remained immaculate, ready for great ladies' toilettes. The 
secret doubtless lay in the swiftness and dexterity of French 
fingers and the comparatively pure atmosphere. What 
would become of similar materials exposed to the smutti- 
ness of a back street in London ? 

In no field does a French housewife's thrift more con- 
spicuously manifest itself than in cookery. The fare of a 
Parisian workman, if not so nutritious as that of his London 
compeer, is at least as appetizing. Thus, a basin of soup 


is often a man's meal before setting out to work. Water, 
in which a vegetable has been boiled, will be set aside for 
this purpose, a bit of butter or bacon added, and there will 
be a savoury mess in which to steep his pound of bread. 
The excessive dearness of provisions puts a more solid 
nutriment out of the question. Thus bacon costs is. 6d. 
the pound, and the high price of butter drives poor folk to 
the use of margarine. 

Whether the pleasant and apparently fresh butter sup- 
plied in Parisian restaurants is adulterated or no I cannot 
say. This I know, that a friend living in Paris has for 
years abjured butter from a horror of margarine. And 
here I add a hint to fastidious eaters. In order to make 
up for the missing butter with cheese, this gentleman mixes 
several kinds of cheese together at dessert Roquefort, 
Brie, Camembert, a delicious compound, I am assured. 

In humble restaurants may be seen long bills of fare, 
each dish priced at sums varying from 2.\d. to $d. Work- 
men in white blouses sit down out-of-doors to these dishes, 
which look appetizing enough. I have never ventured to 
try them. I am assured, however, that it is only the very 
poor of Paris who patronize horseflesh, and you have to 
make a long voyage of discovery before lighting upon the 
shop sign, a horse's head and the inscription, Bouchene de 
cheval, or Boucherie chevaline. One such shop sign I re- 
member to have seen in the neighbourhood of the Rue 

Money is so hardly earned by the Parisian workman 
and workwoman, and existence is such a struggle, that we 
need not wonder at the deadly tenacity with which earnings 
are clutched at. When some years ago the Ope"ra Comique 
blazed, amid a scene awful as that of a battlefield, the 
women attendants thought of their tips, the half franc due 
here and there for a footstool. Unmindful of their own 
peril and that of others, they rushed to and fro, besieging 
half-suffocated, half-demented creatures for their money ! 


A similar scene happened during the terrible catastrophe 
on the Paris underground railway last year. Although 
the delay of a few seconds might mean life or death, many 
workmen refused to move from the crowded station, clamour- 
ing for the return of the forfeited twopenny ticket. 

When M. Edmond Demolins sets down the French 
character as the least possible adapted to spending, in other 
words, to the circulation of capital, he hits upon what is at 
once the crowning virtue and the paramount weakness of 
his country-people. Money in French eyes means some- 
thing on no account whatever to be lightly parted with, 
absolute necessity, and absolute necessity alone, most often 
condoning outlay. But there is a shining side to this 
frugality. French folks do not affect a certain sumptuary 
style for the sake of outsiders, such unpretentiousness 
imparting a dignity mere wealth cannot bestow. The 
following incident opened my eyes to French standards 
long ago. 

I had been spending a few days with a French friend, 
widow of an officer at Pornic, and on returning to Nantes 
took a third-class ticket. The astonishment of my hostess 
I shall not forget. 

" I always travel first class," she exclaimed, after a little 
chat about the matter of trains, adding, " but I do not travel 
often, and I am rich. I have an income of 200 a year." 

Of which I doubt not she seldom spent two-thirds. 
And in this supreme sense the vast majority of French 
folks are rich, ay, and often " beyond the dreams of avarice." 



A FRENCHMAN'S notion of holiday is to see as 
much as possible of his relations, and to gather 
his own peaches. When the long vacation comes, 
with its burning skies, valetudinarians betake themselves 
to ContrexeVille, Pougues-les-Bains, or equally favourite 
spas ; family parties animate the Breton and Norman 
coasts ; cyclists by the thousand invade the once solitary 
fastnesses of Fontainebleau ; a few, a very few, adventure- 
some spirits start for the Swiss mountains, Scotch rivers, 
or Norwegian fiords. By far the greater number merely 
change one home for another, the town flat for the country 
house, villa, or cottage. 

The result of the French Revolution has been a material 
levelling up. Whilst in England the possession of a town 
and country residence implies wealth and social position, 
in France the case is quite otherwise. Just as all but the 
very poor and the declassts sit under the shadow of their 
own vine and fig-tree, so the well-to-do middle classes, like 
the noblesse, now own a rural retreat in which to pass the 
ville"giature. The houseless or rent-paying in France, 
indeed, form a mere remnant, a handful. In an official 
work on this subject (" L'Habitation en France," par A. de 
Foville: Paris, 1894), we find that whilst in many depart- 
ments seventy and even eighty per cent, of the inhabitants 
occupy houses belonging to them, the average of the 
entire eighty-six departments is sixty-four ! * 

* These figures, of course, hold good with regard to communes only. In 
towns folks live mostly in flats, several families occupying a block. 



Parisians have their country houses within easy distance 
of the capital ; provincial lawyers, advocates, professors 
and men of business do not care to go far afield in search 
of refreshment and recreation. They migrate to the family 
campagne. For many years I was often a guest in a 
Burgundian village half an hour by rail from Dijon, my 
kind hosts forming part of a patriarchal group. No less 
than six families, more or less closely related, had here 
their handsome houses and large gardens. One head of a 
house rather, I should say, one paterfamilias, the wife and 
mother in France being ever the head of the house was 
an advocate, another a lawyer, a third a notary, and so 
on. Great-grandmother, grandparents, grandchildren, and 
great-grandchildren, uncles, aunts, and cousins made up a 
little society, the members apparently needing no other. 
As all were in opulent circumstances that kind of holiday- 
making must have been quite voluntary. One lady, 
indeed, once went with her young daughter to Vichy ; 
and my hostess, a venerable dame, accompanied by her 
son, grandson, and myself, once got so far as St. Honor^- 
les-Bains, a hydropathic resort charmingly situated a few 
hours off by rail. These flittings were undertaken for 
health's sake, and were quite exceptional. The long 
vacation merely meant a renewal of family intercourse 
under other circumstances. Grandmothers chatted in the 
garden instead of in the salon ; the young people played 
croquet, which they certainly could not do in town ; avout, 
avocat, and notaire, instead of hob-nobbing at cafe or club, 
shouldered their guns and went abroad in search of 
partridges, or in wet weather played whist and dominoes. 
No one seemed to find the annual villegiature a trifle 
monotonous. The day was snailed through pleasantly 
enough, and with the least possible expenditure of energy. 
To economize vital force, I should say, is the end and aim, 
not only of these country lawyers and barristers, but of 
many, perhaps most, people in France. English folks in 


similar circumstances would have had neighbours calling, 
garden-parties, picnics, every day. To the best of my 
knowledge, from the first of August till the middle of 
October, M. le Cur6, M. le Percepteur (a functionary having 
quite a different position to our own tax collector), and 
myself were the only outsiders seen within the six different 
houses. Upon one occasion a picnic was given, rather an 
alfresco luncheon in a clos or walled-in vineyard. The spot 
selected lay within a few hundred yards of everybody's 
dwelling, the six families all living within earshot of each 
other. Thus the guests had only to step out of their 
gardens, and the servants' goings to and fro were reduced 
to the minimum. 

Professional men in Paris and large cities who belong 
to the houseless minority generally keep holiday with 
relations. Husband, wife, and their "little family," the 
said little family generally consisting of a single and very 
spoiled bantling, are received by parents on either side, if 
they happen to live in the country. This arrangement is 
regarded as a matter of course. We must ever bear in 
mind that the French marriage is not an institution that 
detaches, but rather one that cements. Husband and wife 
are not thereby respectively separated from their parents. 
Instead of one father and one mother, each henceforth 
possesses two. And not infrequently there will be painful 
conflicts, a rebellion against divided influence and affection. 

Others, again, who have neither country house of their 
own nor a parental refuge for the dog days, will indulge 
in the favourite promenade en mer, or sea-walk, at some 
inexpensive place. Since my near acquaintance with 
France began, by a twelvemonth's residence in Brittany 
twenty-five years ago, hundreds of little watering-places 
have sprung up on the west coast. 

Seaside lodgings after English fashion have not found 
acceptance in France. These brand-new townlings by the 
sea do not consist of formal terraces, but of villas dotted 


here and there like the cottages of a child's toy village. 
Economic folks hire a tiny chalet and cater for themselves, 
all kinds of privations and discomforts being good-naturedly 
endured ; for the coveted promenades en mer evoke a 
livelier spirit than the installation in country house or 
under some familiar roof. And sea-bathing, with every 
other desirable thing, must here be taken in company. 
The notion of a bathing-machine, a hurried plunge, or 
solitary swim, is wholly unacceptable to the French mind. 
So when the burning glare of the day is over, family meets 
family on the sands, most sociably and unconventionally 
disporting themselves. 

My first experience of sea-bathing after French fashion 
was gained at Les Sables D'Olonne, in Vendee, or Les 
Sables, as the place is aptly called. Never, I think, I saw 
sands so velvety smooth, so firm ; and never do I remember 
a hotter place ! Even in June folks could not stir abroad 
till towards evening, when the great business of the day 
began, the five-o'clock promenade en mer being in reality 
a constitutional turn before dinner. Emerging from their 
cabines, or dressing-closets, fronting the sea, poured forth 
the strangest company men, women, and children walking 
into the sea, a distance of course varying with the tide, on 
the occasion I speak of about two furlongs. 

Masqueraders at carnival could not present an odder, 
more whimsical appearance than these fashionable fre- 
quenters of Les Sables, equipped for the daily paddle. 
The children, in their gay, much be-frilled costumes, looked 
like so many juvenile harlequins ; the ladies wore serge 
bathing-dresses trimmed with bright-coloured braid ; the 
men, in their close-fitting cuirass-like garments of striped 
black and red or blue, might have passed for so many 
champion swimmers. Thus fancifully semi-clothed, merrily 
chatting, or toying with the waves, young and old took 
their amphibious stroll, doubtless returning with a first-rate 
appetite for dinner. 


At Prefailles, near Pornie, in Brittany, which I visited 
a little later on, I found sea-bathing proper the quiet sea 
at high tide populated with the oddest mermen and mer : 
maids, all in the quaintest habiliments, and all wearing 
huge straw hats or gipsy bonnets, on account of the heat. 
A stout, elderly papa was teaching his children to swim, 
mamma, portly and middle-aged, in the water with the 
rest, and enjoying the excitement as much as any. 

The seaside holiday is often, indeed, an excuse for 
family gatherings, friendly intercourse, and matchmaking ! 
The promenade en mer, delightful as it is, will often be 
quite a secondary consideration. 

Some watering-places especially lend themselves to 
social amenities. Thus at St. Georges-de-Didonne, near 
Royan, in the Charente Inferieure, the smooth sands admit 
of croquet parties and dances. During my stay of many 
weeks in that sweet spot some years ago I constantly 
heard of such entertainments. When French people do 
make up their minds to leave home, which is not often, 
they endeavour to get the utmost possible enjoyment out 
of their money. Here I would observe that the best way 
of knowing and appreciating our neighbours is to travel 
in their company, or rather, to have them for travelling 

I have been so privileged on many of my long French 
journeys, and the experience has opened my eyes upon 
many subjects. In the first place, French people never 
by any chance grumble when on their travels. They seem 
to regard the mere fact of being away from home such a 
wrench that minor discomforts are hardly worth considera- 
tion. Hence it comes about that in regions unfrequented 
by the fault-finding English, French hotels are still very 
much as they were under the ancien regime, sanitary 
arrangements not a whit more advanced than when Arthur 
Young bluntly wrote of them more than a hundred years ago. 

The reason is simple. French travellers resent such 



antequations no less than ourselves, but shrug their 
shoulders with the remark, "We shall not come here 
again, why put ourselves out ? " 

Which attitude, from one point of view, is an amiable 
aprh moi le deluge, seeing that if no one ever complained 
hotel-keepers would imagine, like Candide, that everything 
was for the best in the best possible world. 

My first fellow-traveller was an elderly lady, widow of 
an officer, with whom I took a delightful two weeks' driving 
tour in the highlands of Franche-Comte. 

In early life Madame F had spent many years in 

St. Petersburg as governess in a highly placed Russian 
family, returning to France with a self-earned dowry, just 
upon a thousand pounds, at that time the regulation dowry 
of an officer's wife. An officer's wife she duly became, 
and excellently the marriage turned out she told me, for 
I had the whole story from her own lips. "The best of 
men was my husband," she invariably added when recurring 
to the past. 

During our journey through a succession of picturesque 
but very primitive regions, both tempers and powers of 
endurance were severely taxed. The wayside inns could 
hardly have been worse in Arthur Young's time. Dirty, 
noisy, uncomfortable, our night's lodging was often so 
wretched that we obtained little sleep. Never before 
had I fared so badly in out-of-the-way France, which is 
saying a good deal. Charges were naturally low, and the 
people civil and obliging, but without the slightest notion, 
of punctuality or exactitude. Nothing ruffled my com- 
panion's even mood, and her placability became almost 
as disconcerting as the beds we could not lie down in, 
the meals waited hours for, and other easily remedied 
drawbacks to enjoyment. A holiday tour and congenial 
society compensated for all minor inconveniences. Inci- 
dental discomforts seemed to be taken as part of the day's 


Upon another occasion, an old friend, a French officer, 
invited me to an al fresco breakfast on the banks of the 
Saone, near Lyons. A delightful two hours' drive brought 
us to the lie Barbe, a narrow, wooded islet forming the 
favourite holiday ground of the Lyonnais. In a restaurant 
overlooking river and wooded banks we had long to wait 
for a very poor dtjeuner and a bottle of very bad wine. 

As the charges are always high at such places, I sug- 
gested to my friend that he should make a complaint and 
demand another bottle. 

"It would be the same thing," was his smiling reply. 
Sunshine, the lovely riverside prospect, congenial society, 
the sight of happy picnic parties outside, in his eyes more 
than made up for un drinkable wine highly priced. 

As yet the horseless family coach must be considered 
the privilege of the rich. Motoring is too novel an ele- 
ment in holiday-making to be dealt with here. 

I will now say something about house-parties during 
the long vacation, as upon other topics, strictly confining 
myself to personal experience. 

In a pre-eminently intellectual nation like France we 
should naturally look for a very high tone in the matter 
of fireside recreation, nor are we at all likely to be dis- 
appointed. One exquisite art, allied to another even more 
fascinating, is especially cultivated by our neighbours. 

On French soil the training of the speaking voice and 
the love of poetry go hand-in-hand. What accomplish- 
ment is better adapted to the family circle than that of 
rhetoric, the gift of reciting ? Montaigne somewhere says 
that sentiments clothed in verse strike the mind with two- 
fold impact. This is especially the case with poetry " made 
vocal for the amusement of the rest." Declamation is 
generally taught in girls' schools, and when natural aptitude 
is carefully fostered the reciter wields a fairy wand. 

As I write comes back to my mind enchanted evenings 
in a chdteau of Lorraine. The September day over, with 


its walks and drives, the house-party, excepting myself all 
members of the family, luxuriously ensconced before a 
wood fire, one voice would hold us spell-bound. The 
magician, a young daughter-in-law of the hosts, was 
richly endowed as to voice, memory, and histrionic power. 
Now she thrilled us with dramatic episode, now moved 
us to tears with pathetic idyll, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, 
and contemporary poets, making up a large and varied 

It has been my good fortune to hear a good deal of 
recitation in France ; none ever charmed me as did that 
of this gifted young wife and mother. Rememberable, 
too, were hours spent in the music-room. My host and 
hostess, already grandparents, were excellent musicians, 
and on wet afternoons would invite me to the most charm- 
ing pianoforte and violin recitals imaginable. Croquet, 
tennis, billiards, and other lighter entertainments varied 
the day's programme, and here I found none of that 
exclusiveness characterizing less cosmopolitan, homelier 
country houses, no Chinese wall hemming round the roof- 
tree. Monsieur had formerly occupied a diplomatic post, 
with himself madame belonged to the titled ranks, both 
had travelled much. A dinner-party at the chdteau, there- 
fore, did not consist of uncles, aunts, and cousins, but of 
neighbours, living perhaps a dozen miles off. 

I add that among the travelled, leisurely classes we 
always hear English speech and find the latest Tauchnitz 
editions on the drawing-room table. And, oddly enough, 
proud as they are of their own incomparable language, 
our neighbours never by any chance whatever use it if 
they can express themselves tant bien que mal in the 
tongue of perfidious Albion, a compliment sometimes 
resented by over-sea visitors. 



THE French baby usually comes into the world an 
heir. Outside the venue of penury and lawless- 
ness, it may be said that every Gallic bantling is 
born with a silver spoon in its mouth. The Code Civil 
has made fathers in France mere usufructuaries of their 
children's fortune. "Thou shalt enrich thy offspring" is 
an eleventh commandment rigidly obeyed. 

When a little Anglo-Saxon announces himself with 
kicks, screams, and doubling of his tiny fists, the attitude 
is symbolic. Unless he is born to a peerage or a million, 
his career, even in pacific fields, will be combative, earliest 
experiences evoking a spirit of enterprise, self-reliance, 
and, above all, compromise. 

If a tiny Gaul behaves in similar fashion at the onset 
of life, his attitude soon changes. Mite as he is, he 
immediately discovers that there is not the slightest neces- 
sity to kick, scream, and double his fists. Everything he 
wants he gets without such expenditure of lungs and 
muscles. His nod is that of an infant Jupiter Olympus. 
For the French baby born of reputable wedlock is a unit, 
occasionally one of two never a superfluity. When a 
fond French parent tells you that "sa petite famille va 
bien " (his little family is well), he means that the one 
boy or one girl of his house is in good health. When a 
Frenchman proudly informs you that he is " pere de 
famille" (the father of a family), he means that he owns 



a son or a daughter. With undivided sway the new-comer 
rules, not the nursery (nurseries being unknown in France), 
but the entire household. He is regarded as a quite 
transhuman entity, a phenomenon, a small divinity whose 
humour under no circumstances whatever is to be crossed. 
From the moment of his birth he is entrusted to a deputy 
mother in other words, a wet nurse who must never let 
her charge cry. 

"Take my advice," I once heard a young matron say 
to another, " and immediately dismiss your nurse if baby 
cries. I changed mine for Cecile half a dozen times before 
I succeeded in obtaining one who understood her business. 
Depend on it, if an infant cries the fault lies with the 
nurse." The task of rearing infants under such conditions 
may seem onerous. The rewards are proportionate. 

Next to the little heir or heiress under her care, the 
nurse is by far the most important person in the house. She 
lives on the fat of the land, and is never allowed to cry 
herself that is to say, she must never sigh for the bantling 
she has left behind. Her wages range from a pound a 
week, and if she gets her foster child well over its teething, 
she receives a gold watch in addition to other perquisites. 
When madame's visits do not lie in the direction of any 
public garden, she takes a fiacre, and nurse and baby have 
the carriage and pair to themselves. In the Tuileries 
Gardens, the Pare Monceau, and on the Champs Elys6es, 
instead of nursemaids in white dresses and perambulators, 
we see veritable walls of these foster-mothers in spick-and- 
span grey alpaca circular cloaks, and close-fitting mob-caps 
with streamers of broad ribbon reaching to their heels. 
This ribbon is a special manufacture of St. Etienne, and 
costs ten francs a yard. It is a plaid, red denoting the 
nurse of a boy, blue of a girl, at least four yards being 
used. A right jovial time of it have these wearers of 
circular cloaks and ribbon costing ten francs a yard. 
On a par with Juliet's immortal nurse are evidently most 


of them, well-meaning, but coarse, ignorant countrywomen 
attracted from the poorest and least progressive parts of 
France by high wages and riotous living. And concern- 
ing them has lately been waged a war as determined in 
spirit as that waged about Captain Dreyfus. Laws 
have been promulgated against the practice of vicarious 
motherhood. One of the most popular French novelists 
has scathingly indicted the system in fiction ; and at the 
eclectic Theatre Antoine, night after night, vast audiences 
have been moved to tears by Les Remplaqantes, a play 
owing its inspiration to the same subject. Whether the 
excellent Loi Roussel forbidding mothers to go out as 
nurses till their own infants are seven months old, Rene* 
Bazin's moving history of " Donatienne," or M. Brieux' 
still more moving play, Les Rempla$antes, will reduce 
that living wall in the Paris gardens is a moot question. 
And why fond French mothers as persistently relegate 
their maternal duties to others as when Rousseau issued 
his fulminations a hundred and fifty years ago, I have never 

Alike in humble ranks the baby is an idol, but oft- 
times a hindrance, an encumbrance, a tiny white elephant. 
The Loi Roussel may prohibit working women from acting 
the part of foster-mothers ; it cannot compel them to be 
mothers indeed. In all the first-class Paris hotels house- 
work is done by married couples, these being necessarily 
in the prime of life and the pick of their class. Whenever 
a baby is born to one of these chambermaids, it is imme- 
diately boarded out in the country, faring, doubtless, every 
whit as well as Cherubim in Paul de Kock's amusing story, 
and reared no more intelligently. You may still see babies 
emmaillot'e in the country, so swaddled that they cannot 
move a limb, their little unwashed heads in close-fitting 
caps. But out of sight is by no means a case of out of 
mind. From the moment of its birth the baby in France 
is the pivot on which everything turns, the centre of 


parental hopes and ambitions. A day out means a run 
into the country to see B6be\ Every English half-crown 
bestowed by passing travellers goes towards the little 
daughter's dowry or the little son's equipment for life. In 
the Pyrenees, no sooner is a girl born than the mother 
begins to spin and weave her trousseau the enormous 
stock of house and family linen that will long outlast the 
life just begun. And no sooner is a daughter born to the 
professional man or small functionary than her modest 
dowry is insured by yearly payments a few thousand 
francs to become her own on her marriage day. We all 
know the story of Diderot, who sold his library to dower 
his daughter. That charming story-teller, Charles Nodier, 
author of " Trilby " (did du Maurier here borrow the title 
of his once famous book ?), bookworm and bibliographer 
though he was, made a similar sacrifice. Tremendous, 
indeed, is the sense of parental responsibility in France. 
The care, bringing up, and providing for one child seem 
enough for ordinary mortals. " Ah ! how happy you will 
be when Denise has a brother to keep her company ! " I 
said to a gentleman of means and position who was talking 
rapturously of his baby granddaughter. " Another ? " was 
the reply. " What should I do with two grandchildren ? 
I have only one pair of arms ! " 

It is not for a moment to be inferred that more affection 
or care is lavished upon babies over the water than here. 
But, as Thiers remarked when France was torn to pieces 
by Bonapartist, Orleanist, and Legitimist factions, "A 
single crown cannot be worn by three heads," so the 
numerous occupants of an English nursery cannot all be 
little divinities. 

A brilliant Anglo-French friend of mine was of opinion 
that French amiability is due to the fact of early indulgence, 
children's tempers never being spoiled by contradiction. 
Be that as it may, other characteristics must certainly be 
attributed to bringing up sociableness, for instance, also 


gastronomic discrimination. Whilst to the little Anglo- 
Saxon the populous nursery becomes a school of life, to his 
neighbour the salon and salle a manger become schools of 
manners. Nurseries and nursery meals being unknown in 
France, no sooner is baby weaned than he takes his place 
at the dinner-table, rapidly acquiring ease of manner and 
appreciative habits. 

" Ma fille adore le poisson " (" My daughter adores 
fish "), one day said the proud mamma of a year-old baby 
to her table d'hote neighbour. This happened to be an 
English lady, who with no little amusement was watching 
the infantine gourmet. Everything that French babies like 
is supposed to be good for them, and, as the national 
physique is noted for its elasticity and powers of resistance, 
there may be practical wisdom in thus eschewing nursery diet. 

French parents, alike the rich and the poor, hold with 
Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre, and grandfather of the 
gay Gascon. No sooner was the future King of France 
born than the old man took him in his arms, and from a 
gold cup made him swallow a few drops of choice wine, in 
order, as chroniclers relate, to make him grow up strong 
and manly. French children are wine-drinkers from their 

Some years since I was staying with a Frenchwoman 
who received boarders. One afternoon the excellent maid- 
of-all-work brought in my tea, looking ready to cry of 

" It is unbearable ! " she burst out. " Think of it, 
madame ; nine to cook for, and in the midst of my vegetable 
cleaning I have to leave off and get a dinner ready for 
Suzanne because she is going out with her grandmother." 

The grandmother, who lived near, was to fetch Made- 
moiselle Suzanne at half-past five. Here is the bill of 
fare, the young lady being just two and a half soup, 
fish, beef steak, fried potatoes, cheese, dessert, and, of 
course, wine. 


Upon another occasion I was dining with rich people 
living in their own hotel, and, wonderful to relate, the 
parents of seven children, from three to fifteen. All sat 
down to dinner, the younger ones being carried off to bed 
as soon as they nodded over their plates. 

The introduction of the nursery would necessitate the 
entire reconstruction of Paris. In luxurious private hotels 
only is anything like an English installation for babies 
possible, whilst even in handsome flats costing several 
hundreds a year there are never two rooms available for 
the purpose. As to smaller appartements, the bedrooms 
are mere slips ; a nursery in these is every whit as out of 
the question as a servants' hall. One reason, perhaps, why 
children should be so much scarcer in Paris than in London 
is that in the French capital there is positively no room for 
more. And as the scarcity of any commodity immensely 
enhances its preciousness, French babies are never in the 
way, or supposed to be in the way. 

I have heard an animated political discussion going on 
whilst a boy of two and a half was hammering the lid of a 
wooden box. No notice was taken either by his parents 
or their second visitor. Nor are French children ever sup- 
posed to be naughty. 

I was one day walking in the country with friends when 
their little girl, aged three, began to fret, as children will 
without knowing why. " Ce n'est pas la petite Georgette 
qui pleure, c'est la petite Louise" ("It is not little Georgette 
who is crying, but little Louise "), said Georgette's father, her 
waywardness being thus attributed to an imaginary culprit. 
Another friend, a hardworking professional man, lately 
observed to me, " My wife and I have given up going to 
the theatre. Our little boy cries at the notion of being left 
behind, so we stay at home." 

When, some years ago, the famous novelist Alphonse 
Daudet was in London with his wife and little girl, nothing 
astonished Madame Daudet so much as the fact of the 


child not being invited to luncheons, dinners, and recep- 

"J'ai toujours gardd mes enfants dans ma poche" ("I 
have always kept my children in my pocket"), she said 
indignantly to an interviewer. That English parents should 
not do the same seemed in this lady's eyes the height of 
insular moroseness. As I have said, the French baby is 
never supposed to be in the way. The other day I was 
dispatching a telegram from a French terminus. The clerk 
was enjoying his domesticities as he worked. By his side 
played a boy of three, keeping him company a sage-looking 
dog, her puppy nursed on the master's knee. And the last 
time I called upon my dressmaker, near Fontainebleau, her 
baby, of course, was in the workroom, one apprentice after 
another delightedly acting the part of nurse. 

Beautiful is this French adulation of infantine life. 
Whether excessive spoiling later on is the best preparation 
for after years is another matter. 



THE French girl is a very delicate piece of Nature's 
handiwork, art adding the final touch. On the 
threshold of life she may be said to form a 
feminine type apart. In her person is combined alike the 
woman of the world and, I was about to say, the blushing 
ing/nue; since French girls never do blush, I omit the 

Let not the correction be misinterpreted. The in- 
capacity of these eighteen-year-old maidens is by no means 
due to forwardness. Quite the reverse. It is due to 
fastidious training, to the perpetual inculcation of restraint. 
A group of English sisters resembles hardy garden flowers 
left to sun, air, and themselves. The one daughter of a 
French house is like a hot-house rarity, day by day 
jealously nursed, ever on its growth a watchful eye, exterior 
influences withheld. 

The methods of bringing up in the two countries differ 
so essentially as to render comparison impossible. Each 
system is antipodal to the other, and each is nicely adapted 
to circumstances and national ideals. In England a good 
deal is left to chance and natural inclination : in France, a 
girl's character and career are carefully elaborated. It may 
safely be taken for granted that a French girl, from her 
cradle to her marriage, is the subject of more parental 
anxiety, calculation, and forethought than the inmates of 
what Jean Paul calls a daughter-full house (ein tochtervolles 



Education is a problem of immense difficulty and pain- 
ful deliberation. The convent school no longer enjoys the 
prestige of former days. Madame de Maintenon's ideal of 
the well-bred young person has become old-fashioned. 
Even strictly orthodox parents now require more solidity 
in the matter of instruction, and more modernity in house- 
hold arrangements. The young lady whose mother and 
grandmother were educated, or rather fitted for society, by 
the sisters of Sacre" Cceur, no longer goes to a convent 
school. So after much diligent inquiry, comparing of 
maternal notes, and verifying of references, some private 
school, or, better still, some lady receiving a few daily 
pupils, is fixed upon ; but the difficulties are far from 

As we all know, every French girl of means and 
position is in precisely the condition of a royal princess. 
Under no circumstances whatever must she so much as 
cross the street to post a letter alone. One might suppose, 
from the Argus eye kept upon girlhood in France, that we 
were still living in the days of Una and her milk-white 
lamb ! There is, however, a comfortable equilibrium 
between demand and supply. The necessary bodyguard 
of French schoolgirls is furnished by an army of promenetises, 
literally, promenaders ; in other words, gentlewomen hired 
by the hour, day, or week, whose business it is to conduct 
pupils to and from their schools, and take them for walks 
when required. If the minutest investigation is necessary 
in the case of an educational establishment, how doubly is 
it needed in the case of a young daughter's companion ! 
The promeneuse must neither be too old nor too young, 
neither too well-dressed nor too shabby ; her appearance, 
indeed, must be irreproachable, and her conversation and 
manners to match. And not only herself, but her ac- 
quaintances and connections generally ! If there is a blot 
on her family escutcheon, no needy spinster or widow 
would be accepted in this capacity. In a relentless spirit 


are domestic records studied throughout France. With 
equal painstaking are chosen companions, books, and 
amusements. All these an English girl selects for her- 
self ; quite otherwise is it with her young neighbour over 
the water. So long as she remains under the parental 
roof, she accepts such guidance as a matter of course. To 
invite a school-fellow to the house without first asking 
permission, to take up a book before consulting her 
mother as to its suitability, would never enter her head. 
If we want to learn how young French girls are entertained 
on birthdays and holidays, we must attend afternoon per- 
formances at the Theatre Frangais or the Odeon. There 
witnessing L'ami Frits, Athalie, or some other equally 
unobjectionable piece, may be seen dozens of proud papas 
with their youthful daughters, and delightful it is to witness 
what pains are taken for their amusement and instruction. 
In the mean time an educational course is being carried on, 
somewhat restricted in scope, but thorough as far as it 
goes. French parents wisely, it seems to me limit 
studies to taste, capacity, and circumstances. The entire 
girlhood of France is not taught violin-playing, to the 
terror of the community at large, simply because violin- 
playing has become the fashion. Even in the lycee, 
answering in some degree to our high schools, thoroughness 
rather than comprehensiveness is the object held in view. 
A girl learns few things, but those things well. 

We are here, however, not dealing with a young lady 
who will have to go out into the world and earn her own 
living, but one who is destined for society and the ordering 
of a well-appointed house. In her case the programme 
will be naturally curtailed. She need not learn book- 
keeping or needlework in its more practical branches. 
English has long been obligatory as a part of genteel 
education ; music a French girl generally learns if she 
cares about it ; and there is one very pretty accomplish- 
ment peculiarly French, in which she often excels. This 


is the graceful art of declamation. Family gatherings are 
enlivened by the young daughter of the house reciting a 
" Les Etoiles " of Lamartine, " La derniere le$on de 
Franais " of Daudet, or some other little classic in prose 
or verse. And a talent of this kind is carefully fostered 
for use in after life, not laid aside, as is so often the case 
with the pencil and the keyboard. The essential education 
of the French girl, however, does not rest with masters 
and mistresses, but with her mother, and is sedulously, 
unremittingly carried on in the home. It is an education 
wholly apart from books, or a training of eye and ear. Its 
object is neither pedagogic nor didactic, but social. The 
pupil is to be trained for society, the world, and, above all, 
for her future position as wife, mother, mistress. Thus it 
comes about that the French girl can never be found fault 
with as regards carriage, manners, or modes of expressing 
her thoughts. Everything she does is done in the most 
approved fashion. Let it not be hence inferred that she 
necessarily grows up artificial or mannered. Habit soon 
usurps the place of nature, and if less spontaneous than 
her English sister, it is because she has been taught from 
childhood upwards to control her impulses and weigh her 
words in short, to remember that she belongs to a highly 
polished society, and its consequent responsibilities. 
" There is a very good word," wrote Swift, " and that is, 
moderation." This very good word has a more subtle 
meaning in its French equivalent, la mesure. La mesure, 
moderation, proportion, a sense of the fitness of things, is 
ever in the French mind. Just as in French cookery the 
rule is that no single flavour should predominate, so a 
happy medium is aimed at in the education of girls. And 
the importance attached to little things by their monitresses 
induces the same attitude in themselves. An untidy 
scrawl in the shape of a letter, a blundering speech, an 
awkward posture, a too loud laugh are all eliminated by 
teaching and example. As an instance of the perfection 


attained by Frenchwomen in small matters, take the 
following story. 

An elegant and accomplished young Parisian lady was 
lately the guest at an Australian Government House. 
Among mademoiselle's gifts commented upon in society 
papers was the consummate grace with which she entered 
a carriage! The trifling incident is highly suggestive. 
One element is ruthlessly excluded from a French girl's 
education. From girlhood to adolescence she grows up 
without sentimentality to be an eminently matter-of-fact, 
a strictly reasonable being. The great romances of France 
are sealed books to her till she dons the wedding-ring ; 
George Sand, Balzac, Victor Hugo are so many names. 
If indeed any novels have come in her way, they are the 
romans pour jeunes filles i.e. romances expressly written 
for young girls, not namby-pamby, good-goody, after the 
manner of "The Heir of Redclyffe," or "John Halifax," 
but dealing with the mildest love-making only, a drop of 
essence in a bucket of water. 

It is only the title of Madame that authorizes her to 
take up "Eugenie Grandet," "Le Marquis de Villemer," 
or " Notre Dame de Paris." 

A French acquaintance recently expatiated to me on 
her daughter's newly-awakened enthusiasm for fiction, the 
said daughter having been just married at the age of 
thirty-two ! " Of course, Jane " (the English Jane sounds 
so much prettier in French ears than their own Jeanne) 
"can now read anything, and she is devouring Victor 
Hugo's works, which she gets from a circulating library." 

In a French journal lately appeared the bitter cry of 
" an old maid of thirty." It seems mighty hard, wrote this 
victim of custom and prejudice, that whilst minxes of 
eighteen or twenty, just because they were married, could 
read what they chose, and run about unattended, she was 
still treated as a schoolgirl. 

Fortunately, French "old maids of thirty" are not 


common in the upper and well-to-do ranks, and those 
belonging to a different sphere are generally too much 
occupied for romance-reading. 

Thus education has nicely adapted a French girl for 
that parental interference with her love affairs if, indeed, 
they can be so termed which to insular notions appears 
unintelligible, if not shocking. A very pretty American 
girl of twenty once told me that from her twelfth year she 
had never been without hangers-on. In France flirting is 
geographically limited. Under no circumstances is it 
permitted in good society. A French girl learns to look 
at marriage through the maternal eyes. She calmly 
contemplates the matter from various points of view in 
the French tongue, elle envisage la question. 

Indoctrinated with sound practical principles, with a 
horror of the incongruous, the disturbing element in 
domestic life, of retrogression in the social scale, of any 
approach to a misalliance, she seldom disputes the parental 
view. The partner decided for her is accepted. That 
word " partner " suggests a train of reflections. Marriage 
in France is so strictly a partnership in the material as 
well as moral sense that a bridal pair is at once called 
a young household (un jeune manage). And if fathers 
and mothers have given anxious days and sleepless nights 
to the selection of promeneuses, schools, books, and com- 
panions, what thought and deliberation will not be 
bestowed upon the choice of a son-in-law! Unsuitable 
or objectionable suitors are summarily dismissed or kept 
out of the way, a likely admirer is encouraged to come 
forward. And as a French girl, unlike her Transatlantic 
sister, has not had a succession of sweethearts from her 
twelfth year, she is disposed to look favourably on the 
first that presents himself. Under such circumstances may 
there not be as much chance of happiness and comfort in 
these marriages as in the happy-go-lucky wedlock English 
maidens so often enter upon of their own accord ? The 


tree must be judged by its fruits. Where do we find 
closer unions, tenderer wives, more devoted husbands than 
in France ? Where the system of the mariage de con- 
venance proves a fiasco we often find parental adulation 
to blame, the spoiling of character by over-indulgence in 
childhood, the development of egotism and wilfulness by 
inordinate fondling from the cradle upwards. Such cases 
are, fortunately, not the rule, but the exception. 

Fian$ailles, or betrothals, are quickly followed by the 
marriage ceremony in France. Long engagements, after 
English fashion, would never be tolerated by either family 
of the betrothed pair. Here, again, we touch upon the 
supremely practical side of French social life. Engage- 
ments are not contemplated till the future head of a house 
is in a position to marry I should more properly put it, 
till the fortune on both sides admits of an adequate settling 

Of varied and immense aptitudes already a woman 
of the world, though, as far as the other sex is concerned 
reared with comparatively cloistral reserve, the French 
girl awaits fate in the shape of wifehood and maternity ; 
other ambitions has she none, or, at least, other aspirations 
are subservient to these. Strange it is, but true ! In the 
oldest civilization of Western Europe, in what is still, 
intellectually speaking, the most splendid civilization in 
the world, tradition has withstood time and change, re- 
volution and democratic progress ; old-world standards 
retain their place, old-world types are held in highest 
honour. The Frenchwoman's ideal is still the quiet place 
" behind the heads of children ; " the ideal Frenchwoman 
is still the wife and mother. 

Feminine clubland as existing in America ; the gradual 
evolution in that country of what may be called an asexual 
community to the destruction of family life ; Anglo-Saxon 
activity (may we not add unrest ?) impelling English girls 
of means to become doctors, army nurses, head gardeners, 


any and every thing that takes them from home and affords 
independence these elements do not as yet leaven French 
society. Woman doctors, even Portias wearing the ad- 
vocate's robe, we certainly hear of, and naturally an army 
of women educators and other workers exist. But the 
career is entered upon from the necessity of earning a 
livelihood, or from an especial sense of vocation, not 
because home-life is distasteful or because restrictions of 
any kind are unbearable. As a natural consequence, in 
France womanhood reigns with undivided domestic sway. 
The head of a house is not the master, but the mistress. 
In the least little particular a husband consults is bound 
to consult his wife, here material interests cementing 
conjugal union. The undowered, the penniless bride is 
next door to non-existent in France. From the top- 
most rung of the social ladder to the lowest, a household 
is set up by contracting parties of equal, or nearly equal, 
fortune. Hence the dignified position of a wife, hence 
the closely allied interests necessitating mutual counsel 
and advice. 



A FEW years ago the lycee or public school was 
drastically arraigned by that popular novelist M. 
Jean Aicard. Again and again through the 
picturesque and moving pages of " L'Ame d'un Enfant," 
we come upon Sully Prudhomme's line 

" Oh, mres, coupables absentes ! " 

" Oh, mothers, guilty absentees ! " he writes, " fain 
would I have these lines engraved on the portal of every 
lycee. For why play with words ? The lycee is a 
prison, substantially a prison, the horrors of which are 
aggravated by the innocence and helplessness of the 
prisoners. Children are therein subjected to penal servitude, 
a system based, not upon love, but upon compulsion and 

If M. Jean Aicard indicts the feminine rather than the 
paternal head of a house, we must remember that in the 
home a Frenchwoman's rule is autocratic. A child's 
education is entirely in the hands of its mother, and so 
writes our author as soon as little Pierre or Paul begin to 
be noisy, to damage furniture, and need the discipline their 
fathers have not been permitted to exercise at home, off 
they are bundled to a lyce"e. Of the seven or eight 
hundred boarders in any one of these barrack-like build- 
ings, many, he asserts, belong to families living in the same 



Throwing what reads like personal experiences into 
narrative form, our author describes the life of a little 
boarder. Oliver Twist seems hardly more to be pitied than 
this nine-year-old victim of militarism in education, but no 
mere autobiography is here, a child's soul is laid bare. 
From beginning to end the book is a condemnation of 
scholastic methods in France. 

In his little read but deeply interesting memoirs, 
Philarete Chasles tells us of George Sand's dismay when 
visiting her son in a lycee. The bare yard doing duty 
as a recreation ground, the prison-like uniformity of the 
class-rooms, the military discipline shocked the novelist, 
and, adds the narrator, " I am entirely at one with George 
Sand, Montaigne, and H. Frobel, I protest against those 
dismal jails for schoolboys." 

Montaigne's great predecessor in Gargantua sketched 
an ideal plan of education. Rabelais would have a 
collegiate life " so easy and delectable as rather to resemble 
royal pastime than scholastic drudgery." 

But Rabelais and Montaigne were voices preaching in 
the wilderness. That arch centralizer Napoleon worsened 
instead of bettering matters. Under his regime the lycee 
became half monastery, half barracks, an apprenticeship to 
military life. Professors, principals, and managers were 
bachelors ; a semi-military uniform was obligatory even in 
the case of nine-year-old boys, like soldiers, pupils were 
summoned to meals, lessons, and exercise by the drum. 

The Restoration only altered matters extrinsically. The 
name of college royal supplemented that of lycee, bells 
replaced the perpetual drumming so offensive to George 
Sand, and the Napoleonic three-cornered hat was exchanged 
for one of less military kind. 

Some valuable reforms and many important changes 
were introduced under the second Empire by M. Duruy the 
historian, then minister of public instruction. Lyces were 
henceforth divided into two categories, those intended for 


the learned professions, and those about to devote them- 
selves to commerce and agriculture. The first followed 
the usual curriculum ; the second studied modern languages, 
technical science, agriculture, chemistry, and the like. 
Certain lycees were set apart for the new course of study 
called r enseignment special. 

The third Republic not only revolutionized primary 
education throughout France, carrying out the magnificent 
scheme of the Convention and founding state schools for 
girls, but introduced a new spirit into the lyce"e generally. 
The Ferry laws of 1881 considerably reduced the time 
hitherto devoted to dead languages ; German, English, 
and elementary science were now taught in the lower 
classes. The so-called enseignment special was also 

How far were such changes from satisfying public 
opinion the Government commission of inquiry of 1899 
makes clear. Five enormous volumes contained the reports 
of savants, professors, delegates of agricultural and industrial 
associations, and others. 

Here is an extract from that of M. Lavisse, the 

" The uniformity of school routine is ludicrous. How 
inconsistent, for instance, that the hours of recreation 
should be timed in different climates at precisely the 
same time ! From one to two o'clock in the south of 
France, the heat of summer quite prevents pupils from 
taking exercise, but the same rules are in force for 
Marseilles and Dunkirk." 

One result of the five enormous volumes has been the 
introduction of athletic sports into the lycee. Cricket, 
football, and other games are fast supplanting the "walk 
and talk " of former days. 

" How do you amuse yourselves during recreation 
hours ? " I once asked the inmate of a large lyce. 

" We walk up and down and talk," was the reply. 


Whilst approving a certain amount of physical develop- 
ment, the'President of the Commission, M. Ribot, deprecated 
the wholesale adoption of English methods. 

" We do not want," he wrote, " to turn our lads into 
English boys. Rough sports do not suit our race, more 
refined in its elegant vigour ( vigueur tttgante) than that 
of the Anglo-Saxon." 

Hygienic conditions have also improved. We even 
hear that the much-hated pion, or superintendent of 
tasks and recreation yard, is to be suppressed. The herd- 
ing together of enormous numbers, the complete absence 
of any approach to home life and of feminine influence, the 
deadening military routine, are time-honoured abuses not 
easily combated. I must, however, say that my first visit 
to one of these great colleges gave me a very pleasant 

It was on a beautiful Thursday in September that I 
drove with friends from the heart of Paris to the Iyc6e of 
Vanves, half a dozen miles off. 

As we passed through the porter's gate into the 
magnificent park, now an animated scene, I said to myself, 
" How happy must young Parisians be with such a play- 
ground, acres upon acres of undulating woodland, almost 
another Bois de Boulogne, at their service in play hours ! " 

I was soon undeceived. When I congratulated my 
young friend Edmund upon such a privilege, he smiled at 
my nawet^, 

" We are never allowed here except once a month, when 
our parents and friends come to see us," he replied. " Our 
recreation ground is the yard (cour) yonder." 

The said cour was, however, invisible, being on the 
other side of the lyce*e, formerly a seigneurial chateau. 

To-day the beautiful grounds presented the appearance 
of a vast picnic. Fond mothers and fathers had brought 
baskets of cakes, fruit, and sweets, and everywhere 
bivouacked happy groups. 


Little wonder that these boys clung so tenaciously to 
mothers, sisters, any feminine relation. The lyce as 
absolutely excludes womankind as the monastery and the 
barracks. Except on the Thursday half-holiday, a lycden 
never sees a woman's face or hears a woman's voice. 
Tiny boys of nine and upwards are straightway committed 
to masculine governance and care. 

The following illustration of a little lyce"en's life is 
from M. Aicard's book : 

"One half-holiday, I had brought back a rose, and, 
wishing to keep it as long as possible, I put it in a glass 
of water inside my desk. 

"I could not help from time to time looking at my 
treasure a crime, I admit. For roses speak, but not in 
Latin ; they say all sorts of forbidden things, they invite 
little boys to run about in country lanes, they incite to 
rebellion. You never see a lyceen censeur (overseer or 
supervisor of studies) sniff a flower. Flowers do not bloom 
on the schoolmaster's ruler. Well, I harboured my rose, 
just as an anarchist harbours his bomb. When I opened 
my desk to give the poor flower air, a ray of sunshine 
bathed it, seemed to kiss it ; a dark shadow suddenly 
blotted out the beam. A big hand seized my splendid 
rose, in another second it lay in the courtyard below. 
Justice was satisfied ! " 

A state system of education is not easily changed, but 
outside the French University and its dependencies, 
voluntaryism is actively at work. 

Our good friend, M. Demolins, author of " La SupeViorite 
des Anglo-Saxons," does not share M. Ribot's misgivings. 
He is not aghast at the notion of French boys losing their 
vigueur fl/gante in other words, becoming too English. 

Aided by a valiant band of co-operators, this inde- 
fatigable Anglophile has boldly seized the bull by the 
horns. From the Ecole des Roches, Verneuil (Eure), 
every vestige of the lyce is banished. Here are no 


enormous dormitories with spy-holes in the doors, no 
prison-like routine, no walks and talks up and down 
bare yards. Outdoor sports, occupations, and excursions 
in summer, social evenings in winter, vary the scholastic 
year, whilst an element of family life enters both into 
upper and preparatory schools. Little wonder that when 
the boys separated after the first term, i.e. Christmas 1899, 
they gave three cheers for M. Demolins, and exclaimed 
how delighted they should all be to return. 

Whilst the primary object of this great educational 
reformer and his colleagues is a sound physical, moral, and 
mental training, equally important is their secondary aim, 
namely, to make each pupil not only a good citizen, but 
a citizen of the world in the best sense of the word, to 
de-nationalize him. M. Demolins' scheme and organiza- 
tion tend to nothing more surely than the uprooting of 
national prejudice. One feature of his school is the six 
months' stagiare, or residence abroad. The youths are 
sent into English or German families or to schools, 
not only for linguistic opportunities, but in order to 
familiarize them with modes of life among other nations. 
Here indeed the originator of the Ecole Nouvelle shows 
an insight and political prescience that entitle him to 
universal gratitude. English and German professors are 
also engaged in contradistinction to the lyce*en system. 
After the Franco-German war, a regulation was made 
totally excluding foreigners from the public teaching staff. 
Hence lyceens could only learn foreign languages at 
second hand, an immense disadvantage. In the Jesuit 
colleges, on the contrary, M. Demolins' arrangement has 
been generally followed. On the subject of language 
Michelet wrote eloquently, "How many unhappy beings 
lost their lives during the Hundred Years' War simply 
because they could not cry 'Mercy' in the tongue of 
the foe! In later times, how many European conflicts, 
especially between near neighbours, might have been 


averted but for common prejudices and ill-founded 
antipathies ! " 

A first step to destroy these is the internationalization 
of school life, and M. Demolins' experiment so far has 
proved strikingly successful. Take, by way of example, 
the following extracts from French boys in England : 
" Chere Madame," writes a thirteen-year-old to the founder's 

wife, " I write to thank you and M. D for having sent 

me to Dulwich, for every one is most kind to me, and I 
am not at all sad." Another boy aged twelve writes, 
"My brother and I are quite well. We are four in one 
bedroom ; one boy is an Australian, who is very nice (trh 
gentil), the other English and very amusing." A third 
aged eleven, who had evidently crossed the Manche in fear 
and trembling, wrote, "The English boys here are not 
at all what I expected to find them, noisy and rough ; one 
of them especially I am very fond of." 

And so on and so throughout the collection included 
in the half-yearly report ending October, 1900. 

"Only think," M. Demolins observed to me when 
lunching at Verneuil, "my boy has become so English 
that he did not want to come home at all, and actually 
relishes porridge for breakfast ! " 

Delightful indeed is a day spent amid such surround- 
ings, on every side evidence of Utopian dreams put into 

"My master whipt me very well," quoth Dr. Johnson 
to his friend Langton ; " without that, sir, I should have 
done nothing." Wiser far is the Rabelaisian theory of 
a scholastic training doux tigier et delectable, a theory 
carried out in particular at Les Roches. 

M. Demolins has, of course, driven a very thin edge of 
the wedge only into the colossal educational machinery put 
together by the Jesuits and elaborated by Napoleon. 

Expenses are necessarily higher. A hundred or two 
boys located after English fashion with married professors 


cost more per head than four or five times as many herded 
together in barracks. 

Again, there is the prejudice against innovation to 
combat, the mistrust of novelty and of foreign methods. 
Doubtless many parents do not share M. Demolins' 
enthusiasm for the cold bath ; some with M. Ribot would 
fear lest football overmuch might rob their sons of native 
vigueur tttgante ; others, again, would consider the discipline 

Be this as it may, the Ecole nonvelle alike as a theory 
and a fact flourishes amazingly. Since my visit to 
Verneuil just six years ago, a congeries of handsome 
buildings has sprung up around the original schoolhouse, 
many acres of recreation ground have been added to the 
former area, and every year pupils are refused for want of 

In my account of the Lycee Fenelon for girls, I anim- 
advert on the absence of foreign teachers for their respective 
languages. This protective system is happily doomed. 
The papers recently announced that our Board of Educa- 
tion has been approached by the French Government on 
the subject of young English schoolmasters who would 
give two hours' daily conversation in return for board and 
lodging in the lycees or other institutions receiving them. 
Doubtless the same innovation will ere long be introduced 
into the Iyc6e for girls. 

I will now say something about the French schoolboy 
as I have found him. One marked characteristic dis- 
tinguishes him from his English compeer. The French 
boy is a conversationalist, the other is not. 

A facile tongue is encouraged in France from the 
cradle upwards. The one child or the only son, invariably 
present at the family board, will naturally have more 
opportunities of expressing his opinions than one of six 
or seven. At an age when . our own boys and girls are 
set down to nursery or schoolroom meals with nurse or 


governess, French children join their parents in the dining- 
room. Thus social habits are prematurely formed; the 
walks and talks of the lyce further develop conversational 
powers. At the age of eighteen, often earlier, a well- 
educated French youth can intelligently discuss widely 
divergent subjects ; he has become a more sociable being, 
more generally companionable, than an English stripling, 
is more addicted to books and indoor life, above all, to 

National systems of education have contributed to this 
result. By the time Etonians go to Oxford or Cambridge 
many young Frenchmen are already bachelors of art, 
science, or letters. Minors before the law, from an intel- 
lectual point of view they have attained their majority. 
Excellent company are often these youthful students, love 
of conversation, relish of society and domesticities, accen- 
tuated by the barrack-like lycee and the hated barrack life 
in earnest to come. 

Serviceableness and a desire to oblige I should set 
down as characteristics of the French boy. 

I well remember several instances in point. 

Upon one occasion I was staying with Burgundian 
friends at the pretty little inland spa of St. Honor6 les 
Bains. Among my casual acquaintances was a family 
belonging to the humbler middle classes, consisting of 
parents and three children, a girl and two boys, whose 
ages ranged from eleven to fourteen or thereabouts. We 
often took long walks together, and one day I asked my 
friend Paul, the elder boy, to tell us a story. Without 
hesitation, and in clear, well-put-together sentences, he 
epitomized Hector Malot's popular novel, " En Famille." 

Upon another occasion I spent the best part of a very 
wet week with friends near Is-sur-Tille, in the Cote d'Or. 
My hosts were not reading people, but the eighteen-year- 
old son of the house had lately brought some new novels 
from Dijon, and very good naturedly volunteered to read 


them aloud. From morning till night the rain poured 
down. It was quite impossible for his grandmother and 
myself to stir abroad, but never for a moment did he relax 
his efforts on our behalf. And when the stories were got 
through, he took me upstairs, where I found an excellent 
library of French classics, not a volume of which apparently 
had been touched for years. As the rain continued the 
reading went on, Gresset's inimitable " Vert- Vert," among 
other favourite pieces, being given with the same untiring 

Such incidents may appear trifling, but they are none 
the less indicative of character. The French boy has his 
faults as well as any other. His virtues are eminently 
social, the fostering of inherited inclinations and aptitudes. 
And his mentalitito use here a French word hardly 
translatable his intellectual attitude, is what we should 
naturally expect ; that is to say, eclectic, critical, analytic, 
addicted, perhaps overmuch, to logic and reasoning. 

" My boy " (the child in question was between ten and 
eleven) "must always reason about everything," I once 
heard a French mother say. "Whatever he has to do 
must first be reasoned about." 

A habit, of course, checked at the lycee and in the 
barracks, but which, nevertheless, remains a habit through 



SOME time since I was leaving a country house near 
Troyes, in Champagne, when my hostess observed, 
" I should have insisted on keeping you longer, but 
for the next twenty-eight days we shall be without coach- 
man and butler, both having to serve in the manoeuvres." 
With a smile she added, " The pair travel to Dijon by the 
same train as yourself, and a substitute will drive us to the 
station, a man formerly in our employ. I was much amused 
just now by his request that he might retain his moustaches ; 
he should not like, he said, to have to take them off. 
Naturally, I humoured him." 

It may seem odd that sumptuary laws should exist in a 
republic. So it is, and, as I shall show elsewhere, in many 
respects our neighbours are far more aristocratic than 

I was awaited by a friend at Dijon, so, finding that 
they could be of no use to me, the two middle-aged 
conscripts took leave, looking anything but elate. Both 
were married men, fathers of families, and occupying places 
of trust. This recurring interference with daily life, the 
indescribable fatigues and discomforts of manoeuvres under 
a burning August sun, the physical and mental risks daily 
involved, might well sober their usually cheerful counte- 
nances. How many a man in his prime and in splendid 
health sets off for his vingt-huit jours never to return alive ! 
Sunstroke, dysentery, accidents, excessive fatigue, exact an 



annual toll. From his majority until the attainment of his 
forty-fifth year, a Frenchman is subject to this quadrennial 

No one, indeed, who has not lived in France and among 
French people can have the faintest idea of what con- 
scription really means alike to the individual, the family, 
and the home. Nor do we here fully realize the import of 
that fell term " armed peace." It may not be generally 
known that the high-stepper of the rich and the cart-horse 
of the poor in France are only up to a certain point the 
property of their owners. Every year possessors of horses 
have to furnish the Ministry of War with a list of their 
animals, one and all being liable to requisition in case of 
war. Indemnification would be made, but what payment 
could compensate for the loss of much-prized favourites ? 
Chevaline conscription was regulated bylaws of July, 1873, 
and of August, 1874. Mules and vehicles are also in this 
sense subject to the State. 

As I shall show further on, even under the modified 
military code of the Third Republic, the blood-tax falls 
heaviest on those least able to bear it namely, on the 
artisan, the peasant farmer, and the labouring man. Young 
men able to pass certain examinations are let off with one 
year's service, the result being that a very small proportion 
indeed of the better-off ranks spend three years in barracks. 
But what twelve months of compulsory soldiering is like, 
in many cases hardships being mitigated by easy circum- 
stances, the following pages will make clear. 

From the day of enrolment to that of his discharge the 
conscript finds himself a prisoner, the conviction being first 
brought home to him by the matter of clothes. The 
enormous army stores, thousands nay, tens, hundreds, 
thousands of thousands of kepis, tunics, trousers, boots, 
warehoused in every garrison town are resorted to with due 
parsimony. In every department of military administra- 
tion the rule is one of strictest, the most rigid thrift. 



Thus on entering the barracks a conscript is not rigged out 
with a new uniform. He is often obliged to take a pre- 
decessor's leavings, pantaloons not being so much as relined 
for the next wearer. Hence the excessive supervision of 
dress, the punishments inflicted for grease-stains, a rent, or 
the loss of a button ! 

Next to the discomfort of ill-fitting, unsuitable, possibly 
left-off clothes, is that of sleeping accommodation. Imagine 
the first night in barracks of a youth not luxuriously but 
comfortably, or we will say decently, brought up. He 
shares a huge, bare dormitory with fifty or more conscripts 
severally belonging to the lowest as well as the most 
favoured ranks of society. The pallet next his own may 
be occupied by one of the unclassed, some rowdy or 
vagabond, on the other side he may have a hard-working 
but coarse-mannered countryman. Absolute cleanliness is 
next to impossible in these military caravansaries ; in 
winter the men suffer from cold, in summer from heat, flies, 
fleas, and worse nuisances. Intense fatigue will at times 
fail to induce sleep under such circumstances. 

Next comes the question of diet. Such minute attention 
is paid to cookery by all classes in France that here, 
perhaps, the artisan and the peasant suffer hardly less than 
the dandy. "A soldier can eat anything," once observed 
a gentleman-conscript to me. What he meant to say was, 
not that he could always relish barrack fare, but that he 
could satisfy his hunger with the first dish put in his way. 
The gamelle, or mess partaken of after the manner of the 
loving-cup, was abolished some years since ; each man now 
has a plate or bowl to himself. It is the monotony that 
tries the healthiest appetite, a perpetual round of stewed 
meat and vegetables, no wine being allowed except during 
the manoeuvres. 

But the crowning privation is that of liberty. Unseemly 
clothes, crowded, malodorous, noisy sleeping-quarters, ragotit 
washed down with water from January to December, are 


bagatelles compared to the sense of moral degradation, the 
fact of being reduced to an automaton. Let me here give 
a conscript's own views on the subject, the speaker, as I 
shall show later, having enjoyed many alleviations. 

"Well," I began, "my dear Emile" I had known 
my informant from a boy "now that your garrison ex- 
periences are over, tell me what you think of conscription. 
And what I should much like to know is this : was the 
probation harder or more bearable than you had been led 
to expect ? " 

" Harder, much harder," was the unhesitating reply. 
" No one except those who have gone through it have the 
remotest idea of what conscription is like. As I had passed 
certain examinations entitling me to a remission of two of 
the three years' obligatory service, and as I had money at 
my disposal, I consider myself exceptionally favoured. For 
all that, barrack life to a civilian is a hideous nightmare. 
There is no other name for it. You feel as if you were 
shut up in prison to the end of your days. Many young 
men cannot stand the confinement and run away. This 
is a desperate step. If they succeed in crossing the frontier, 
they remain outlaws till they have passed their forty-fifth 
year. If they are caught or return voluntarily, they are 
most probably drafted into what is called the regiment of 
intractables, and despatched to Algeria. The treatment 
they are there subjected to is very severe. You see, com- 
manding officers are apt to become hard and unsympathetic 
in spite of their better nature. In the German army matters 
are much worse ; here they are bad enough, goodness 

"Then your experience is that conscription does not 
tend to make young men more patriotic, nor to imbue them 
with the military spirit ? " 

" Patriotic, indeed ! " he replied ; " instead, conscription 
turns them into Socialists and Anarchists. The German 
army, as you know, reeks with Socialism, and there is 


plenty of it in our own. As to enforced military service 
inclining men to soldiering, on the contrary it makes them 
loathe it I, for one, am all for disarmament and arbitra- 
tion. Nothing on earth, for instance, would ever induce 
me to witness a review. Outsiders have no notion of the 
sufferings thereby entailed on the men." 

" Anyhow, Emile, you must have learned a good deal 
during the past twelve months ? " I asked. 

My young friend's answer was of the briefest. I should 
here explain that he was no sybarite or victim of too soft 
bringing-up. An accomplished horseman, an excellent 
shot, a skilled fencer, accustomed to the life of a country 
gentleman, in his case the elementary training of a soldier 
would be child's play, and physical hardships would be 
borne philosophically. Yet it seemed strange that these 
experiences should have begun and ended with repugnance 
only, nothing being left to recall with satisfaction. What 
he had really found intolerable was the loss of individuality, 
the derogation of manhood, the extinguisher put upon all 
that makes life inspiriting and elevating. And again 
Emile reverted to the deterioration of character brought 
about by militarism. 

" Of course we are not cuffed, buffeted, and kicked as 
in Germany no French officer is allowed to touch a man ; 
nevertheless, conscription as a system is both brutalizing 
and demoralizing." Then, he added, as we strolled along 
the Champs Elyse"es on the day following his discharge, 
" Am I really free ? Have I shaken off the fell dream ? 
I do not yet feel quite sure." 

On the subject of promiscuity my young friend spoke 
with less bitterness. 

" Poor fellows ! " he said, alluding to the impecunious of 
his brothers-in-arms. " How grateful they were when able 
to earn a few francs by brushing my clothes or rendering 
any other little service! And one night in winter when 
I had a bad fit of coughing, my nearest neighbour, a Breton 


peasant lad, took the warm rug from his own bed, and 
without a word put it on my own. These things one never 

Not all conscripts regard their probation in the same 
light. Young men of refined tastes naturally resent many 
things that would not shock a herdsman or carter. The 
cavalry regiment has often a fascination for city-bred 
youths, whose only experience of horsemanship has, 
perhaps, been a turn on the merry-go-round. And many 
a stripling comes out of the ordeal sturdier, more of a man, 
than when he first shouldered a gun. But of all the 
conscripts I have known, and several I have known very 
intimately indeed, not one ever expressed any enthusiasm 
for the system, or regarded barrack life as a school of 

Here a few words on the existing laws relating to 
conscription will not be inopportune. Irrespective of 
financial and material considerations, a modification is 
imperatively called for by conscientious reasons. Two 
years' service obligatory on one and all will remove a 
grave injustice. As I have pointed out, under existing 
rules, whilst the artisan, the peasant, and the day labourer 
give three best years of their lives to their country, the 
wealthy and professional classes get off with one, certain 
commercial and literary examinations procuring the deduc- 
tion. With the rural and trading-classes such a privilege is 
unattainable ; hence, whilst young men compelled to work 
for a livelihood, and ofttimes the mainstay of a family, lose 
three years, those who could best afford such an inter- 
ference with their avocations sacrifice one only. Never by 
any chance do you hear of a young gentleman serving the 
entire term. A more equable, more democratic measure is 
necessary to the very existence of the Republic. 

"Examinations have even been made easier," writes 
M. Demolins (A-t-on interet d s'emparer du pouvoir\ "in 
order that a greater number of students may obtain the 


two years' remission." Examiners have sons, and the 
paternal prevails over the military school. In appearance 
the military regulations of 1889 were framed on strictly 
democratic principles. As a friend wrote to me in 1890, 
himself being an officer retired on half-pay, "To sum up, 
the new law is as democratic as possible ; the principle of 
equality has been guaranteed." Had this good friend lived 
a few years longer he would have seen but too good reason 
to change his opinion. 

Until 1872 the organization of the French army was in 
accordance with that of 1832. Lots were drawn yearly, 
the highest number entitling the drawer to total exemption, 
the lowest to seven years' service. Certain exceptions 
were made in the case of only sons of widows, seminarists, 
professors, and teachers pledged to ten years' public service, 
and others. In all cases, total exemption could be pur- 
chased, the agents transacting such substitutions being 
called marchands dhommes (" dealers in men "). After the 
reverses of 1870-71 military organization in France was 
reconstructed upon the Prussian system. Every French- 
man, with very few exceptions, then became a soldier, his 
obligation being that of five years' service and liability to 
being called up during fifteen years further in case of war. 
Exemption was still accorded in times of peace to elder or 
only sons of widows, seminarists, and Protestant theological 
students. Young men having passed certain examinations 
could purchase a four years' remission on payment of two 
thousand five hundred francs. These so-called voluntaires 
d'un an formed a special class ; they might, indeed, be 
called the spoiled children of the army. They were subject* 
to a modified treatment in barracks, which provoked 
jealousy and the necessity for further reforms. 

The law of 1889 introduced, if not absolute, what at 
that time seemed the nearest approach possible to absolute 
equality. Every French citizen was now nominally liable 
to three years' service, and to be called up for exercise or 


during war until his forty-fifth year. No payment under 
any circumstances whatever can secure a substitute, the 
exceptions being as follows young men under an engage- 
ment to serve ten years in educational or philanthropic 
institutions either in France or the colonies, students who 
have passed the higher examinations in art, science, or 
letters, who have received diplomas in national schools of 
agriculture and in technical schools, or who are preparing 
for the Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish ministry ; lastly, a 
certain number of artisans selected by a jury of their 
respective departments, engravers, modellers, decorators, 
etc. In all these cases the three years' service is reduced 
to one. 

Thus it will be seen that the new law namely, 
an obligation of two years' service on all citizens of age 
indiscriminately, is not only a matter of financial economy, 
it is a rectification of very grave abuses. 

There are also other and very grave reasons for a 
change. It is found that the long term of three years' 
withdrawal from rural life and sojourn in towns is a great 
factor in the depopulation of agricultural regions. Young 
countrymen, whether peasants or belonging to the middle 
classes, once this term of service is expired, have no desire 
to return to village life, hence the excessive competition 
for the humblest administrative posts and the dearth of 
hands for farm labour. A recent writer in the Revue des 
deux Mondes (December, 1904) puts this point very forcibly. 

THE truth is, I have no time to get married," was 
the reply of a hard-worked French officer to an 
English friend rallying him on the subject of 
his old-bachelorhood. 

The retort was no mere pleasantry. In England, alike 
from the humblest to the highest, the business of getting 
married may be reduced to a minimum of time, delibera- 
tion, and expense. In the case of the wealthy, a few 
pencilled instructions to the family lawyer as to marriage 
settlements and a special licence are all the formularies 
absolutely necessary ; in the case of the middle classes, 
the brief church service and an equally brief reception of 
friends and relations afterwards entail comparatively little 
outlay, mental or material, on either side. 

In France wedlock is no mere individual, but a family 
matter, a kind of joint-stock affair. An Englishman marries 
a wife. A Frenchman takes not only his bride for better, 
for worse, for richer, for poorer, but her entire kith and kin, 
fortunately a far less numerous contingent than with us. 
A British matron, when informing acquaintances of her 
daughter's marriage, says, "We have lost our daughter." 
A French mother, in similar case, frames her piece of news 
thus, " We have gained a son." The former writes or 
speaks of " our daughter and her husband," or " our son 
and his wife," the latter in either case of " our children." 
A son-in-law addresses his wife's mother as " my mother," 
or more familiarly " mamma." 



A still more striking instance of what may be called 
clanship in France is afforded by the black-bordered faire 
part, or announcement of decease. This notification is made 
not only in the name of next of kin on both sides, but of 
every member of both families down to babies in arms. 
With ourselves such a list would often fill a column of a 
newspaper. French families are small, and one side of 
a page of letter-paper more than suffices. The Roman gens 
was not a more compact and tightly knit body of society 
than the allied group in France, the bond having, like most 
things, an advantageous and a reverse side. It is often 
taken for granted here that youths and maidens are paired 
for life on the other side of the Manche as unceremoniously 
as for a waltz or quadrille. Nothing can be a greater 
mistake, and here, as in most intricacies of domestic life 
among our neighbours, we must take the Code Civil into 
account. Paternal authority is far from being a dead letter 
after majority, as with ourselves. Since June, 1 896, marriage 
laws have been modified with a considerable diminution 
of such authority. At the present time sons and daughters 
aged respectively twenty-five and twenty-one, in case 
of parental refusal, need only make one what is called 
sommation respectueuse, or extra-judicial remonstrance, 
instead of three as was formerly the case. Should the 
parents prove obdurate, young people having attained 
their majority and complied with this formality, are at 
liberty to marry whom they please. 

These modifications have had in view the facilitating of 
marriage generally. The same may be said of the laws 
relating to natural children, noticed elsewhere. 

This power being placed in the hands of doting fathers 
and mothers, they are hardly likely to use it amiss. Instead 
of marrying their children against their will, they contrive 
to prevent them from marrying against their own ; so, at 
least, I should put it. Match-making in France is a very 
delicate process of elimination. Undesirable social elements 


are shut out. The young girl emerging from her almost 
cloistered seclusion, the stripling having passed his bacca- 
laurfat and his military service, will be thrown in the way 
of desirable partners, and of desirable partners only. 
Balzac, that encyclopaedic delineator of French life, has hit 
off this subject in a sentence. " Love never entered into 
her calculations," he writes of a fond mother arranging her 
only son's marriage in " Beatrix." But as at such sus- 
ceptible age falling in love, or what takes the place of it, is 
excessively easy, betrothals ofttimes appear quite voluntary, 
an arrangement brought about, as in England, by the 
young people themselves. 

Nothing like the free-and-easy intercourse of boys and 
girls, young men and maidens, enjoyed by Anglo-Saxons, 
is permissible in France, in this respect the most eclectic, 
least democratic country existing. 

But dances in the winter, croquet and garden-parties, 
both of English introduction, in summer, afford oppor- 
tunities of acquaintance. The seaside or inland resort, too, 
is a fruitful field for maternal match-making. Two mothers 
who have taken their first communion in company, often 
a lifelong tie with Frenchwomen, will arrange to spend the 
summer holidays by the seaside in order that their sons 
and daughters may be thrown together. And when they 
return home the usual printed notice will be sent out on 

both sides : " Monsieur and Madame A have the honour 

to inform Monsieur and Madame B of the betrothal 

of their daughter Berthe with Monsieur Marcel C ," and 

so on. 

In cases where prior acquaintance has afforded no 
guarantee of a young man's character and habits, advances 
on his part will not be accepted till inquiry, or rather the 
most scrupulous investigation, has proved satisfactory. 
Bachelors emancipated from parental authority are often 
married through the friendly mediation of acquaintances. 
I was one day at a picnic consisting of a dozen families 


near Besangon, the said families numbering husband, wife, 
and one child. 

" Do you see that young lady in pink, beside her wet 
nurse and baby ?" my companion said to me. " Her marriage 

to Professor T was arranged by friends of mine. After 

the first introduction he declared that no, nothing on earth 
would induce him to marry a girl with such a nose ; she 
has a very long nose, certainly. But on further knowledge 
he found her agreeable and accomplished, and now they 
are as happy as possible." 

This is a typical story. But, of course, drawbacks more 
formidable than a nose d la Cyrano de Bergerac will some- 
times confront a would-be suitor. 

The wisest and fondest parental foresight cannot prevent 
discord arising from unsuitability of temperament and 
character ; by these precautions misunderstandings arising 
from pecuniary disillusions and disappointments can entirely 
be avoided. Here every particular is minutely gone into 
before the trousseau and wedding day are so much as 

The word " courtship " has no equivalent in the French 
tongue, because the thing itself does not exist. Stolen 
tete-d-tfoes, even furtive kisses, may, of course, be indulged 
in, but only under a modified chaperonage, the half-shut 
eye of parents or guardians. No young French lady would 
be permitted, for instance, to undertake a cycling expedi- 
tion with her future husband. Still less could she take 
train with him for the purpose of visiting relations in the 
country, were the journey of half an hour's duration only. 
Love-making begins with the honeymoon. 

The financial inquisition just alluded to is necessitated 
by the marriage contract. For centuries, alike in the 
humblest as well as the highest ranks, matrimonial settle- 
ments have kept family possessions together in France 
and enriched village notaries ! 

No sooner was serfdom abolished than the peasants 



followed bourgeois example, dowering their daughters and 
securing the interests of their sons by law, In provincial 
archives exist many of these documents, the rustic bride's 
portion consisting of furniture, clothes, money, and some- 
times cattle or a bit of land. The archives of the Aube 
contain the marriage contract of a skilled day labourer 
(manouv.rier) and a widow whose property was double that 
of his own. The deed secured him joint enjoyment and 
ownership. I cannot here, of course, enter into the 
intricacies of the French marriage laws. There is the 
regime dotal, which safeguards the dowry of the wife ; there 
is the regime de la communautt, which makes wedlock 
strictly a partnership as far as income and earnings are 
concerned. And there are minute regulations as to the 
provision for children and widows. The latter are always 
sacrificed to the former. 

Twenty-five years ago an officer was not only obliged 
to secure a small dowry with his wife, about a thousand 
pounds rigidly tied down to her and her children ; he was 
also under the necessity of furnishing the Minister of 
War with two authoritative attestations of the bride's 
respectability and, up to a certain point, social stand- 
ing. The moderate pay of French officers, and the 
Draconian edicts against the incurrence of debt in the 
French Army, quite prevent military men from taking 
portionless brides. And, indeed, outside Bohemia, slum- 
land, or the world of the d&lasst, portionless brides in 
France are an anomaly. No matter what her rank or 
condition, a girl brings her husband something, in modest 
hard-working circles often a little dowry of her own earning. 
The notary is as indispensable an agent of matrimony as 
the mayor or even the priest. Preliminaries of this kind 
comfortably settled, a bridegroom is in duty bound to 
make the acquaintance of his new family, and as the 
French character is eminently affectionate and sociable, 
this is frequently regarded as the pleasantest task possible. 


Especially will a sisterless, brotherless bachelor find it 
delightful to be able to boast of newly acquired relations 
ma belle-sceur, ma cousine, and so on. But a round of formal 
visits necessitates leisure, hence one reason for my friend's 
plaint, " I have no time to get married." The etiquette of 
betrothals is exceedingly strict, and upon every occasion 
love-making has to be sacrificed to conventionalities. 
Thus, whenever an accepted suitor accompanies his future 
mother-in-law and fiancee on visits of ceremony, he must 
offer his arm to the former ; on no occasion must he allow 
inclination to stand before punctilio. 

Trousseau and marriage ceremony quickly follow be- 
trothals. An engagement protracted throughout months 
and years, as is often the case in England, is unknown 
over the water. When a young man is in a position to 
marry he seeks a wife, not before. The fortune-hunters 
so scathingly dealt with in the brothers Margueritte's 
novel, " Femmes Nouvelles," I leave out of the question. 
What I am here attempting to describe is the normal, the 
average, the standard, not exceptional phases of French 
society. No self-respecting parents would have anything 
to do with the suitors described in the popular novel just 

A word or two about trousseaux before entering upon 
the long-drawn-out marriage ceremonial. 

A French friend never gives, always offers a gift : note 
the verbal nicety. Our own rough and ready way of 
making wedding presents shocks our neighbours no little. 
True that grandparents, uncles, and cousins may present a 
bride with an elegant purse containing money or notes ; 
outsiders must never send cheques, as is so often done 

The corbeille formerly offered by the bridegroom con- 
sisted of rich velvets and silks, furs, old lace, family and 
modern jewels, a fan, and a missal, all packed in an elegant 
basket or straw box lined with satin. Among more modest 


ranks these objects were replaced by dress pieces of less 
expensive material and trinkets. Some years since the 
fashion was introduced of replacing the corbeille by a con- 
siderable sum of money enclosed in an envelope. The 
custom, however, is not universal, and most often rings 
and jewellery, as in England, form a bridegroom's gifts. 

Bridal gifts of friends are selected with great care, no 
amount of thought or time being grudged upon the selec- 
tion. These preliminaries being satisfactorily arranged, 
the wedding day, or rather wedding days, quickly follow 
marriage contracts and the preparation of trousseaux. I 
use the plural noun, for in the land pre-eminently of 
method, precision, and formulary, a single day does not 
suffice for the most important ceremonial in human life. A 
Frenchman may not be twice wedded, but most often he is 
privileged with two wedding days : the civil, that is to say, 
the only legal marriage, preceding by twenty-four hours 
what is aptly called the nuptial benediction in church. 

The civil marriage is gratuitous. On the arrival of the 
mayor, announced by officials, the wedding party rise. 
The mayor then reads the articles of the Code Civil re- 
lating to conjugal duties. The declaration of the fiancts 
and the permission of their parents being given, the pair 
are declared man and wife, and the register is handed to 
the lady for signature. Having affixed her name, she 
offers the pen to her husband, who replies, "Merci, 
madame," the coveted title now heard by her for the first 

How, it may be asked, can municipal authorities find 
time to get through the work imposed by this obligation ? 
The answer is simple. The mayor can always be repre- 
sented by his deputy, or adjoint. In small communes one 
of these suffices ; in large cities several are necessary. 
Thus, at Lyons the mayor is supported by no less than 
twelve adjoints, himself officiating only at the marriage of 
noteworthy personages. Fashionable folks are beginning 


to simplify wedding festivities after English example, but 
the two days' programme still finds general favour, dtjeuner, 
dinner, and ceremonies keeping bridegroom and best man, 
or gar$on d'honneur, in their dress-coats from morning till 

If French girls were not trained to habits of self- 
possession from childhood upwards, the double ordeal would 
be trying indeed. A mayor, especially if he happens to 
know the bride, will anticipate by a friendly little speech 
the solemn harangue of the priest to follow. Thus, when 
some years ago an Orleanist princess married into the 
Danish royal family, the mayor of the arrondissement 
wished her well, adding a few touching words about such 
leave-takings of kinsfolk and country. 

Church ceremonials are very expensive affairs in France, 
weddings, like funerals, being charged for according to 
style. Those of the first and second class entitle the pro- 
cession to entry by the front door of cathedral or church, 
to more or less music of the full orchestra, and to carpets 
laid down from porch to altar. Wedding parties of the 
third division go in by a side entrance, and without music 
or carpet traverse the aisle, the charges even so diminished 
being considerable. 

I must say that were I a French bride-elect I should 
bargain for a wedding of the first class at any sacrifice. 
To have the portal of a cathedral thrown wide at the 
thrice-repeated knock of the beadle's staff, to hear the 
wedding march from "Lohengrin" pealed from the great 
organ, to reach the altar preceded by that gorgeous figure 
in cocked hat, red sash, plush tights, pink silk stockings, 
and silver-buckled shoes, all the congregation a-titter with 
admiration surely the intoxication of such a moment were 
unrivalled ! The strictest etiquette regulates every part 
of the proceedings. Accommodated with velvet armchairs, 
the bride's parents and relations are placed, according to 
degrees of consanguinity, immediately behind her prie-dieu ; 


the bridegroom's family, arranged with similar punctilious- 
ness, having seats on the other side of the nave. I well 
remember, at the first-class wedding of an acquaintance in 
Nantes Cathedral, how a little girl belonging to the bride's 
party had somehow got seated between relations of the 
bridegroom. Before the ceremony began the child was 
put in her proper place. Such a breach of etiquette could 
not on any account be permitted. 

Churches in France are not always decorated with 
palms and flowers as with ourselves. Any additional 
expense would indeed be the last straw breaking the 
camel's back, rendering weddings a veritable corvte. But 
the high altar blazes with tapers, and floral gifts, natural 
and in paper or wax, adorn the chapels of the Virgin or 
patron saint. 

One feature of the long-drawn-out ceremonial is the 
charge before alluded to made respectively to bride and 
bridegroom, a tremendous ordeal, one would think. Fortu- 
nately, French girls are equal to the occasion. The theme 
of priestly admonition, the cynosure of all eyes, a young 
bride will listen downcast and demure, but not in the least 
discomposed or in need of smelling-salts. Long training 
has fortified her against sentimentality or unbecoming show 
of emotion. 

" You, mademoiselle," I once heard a village cure" address 
a parishioner, a young woman belonging to the middle 
ranks, "you have before you the example of a mother 
fulfilling in every respect the duties now before yourself, 
wifely, maternal, and Christian," and so on, and so on, the 
bride listening calmly to personalities, admonitions, and 
forecasts that seemed in the highest degree disconcerting. 

The wedding-rings, obligatory on both sides, received 
on a gold salver, blessed and adjusted, the plate is again 
proffered, this time for alms. Bank-notes, and gold or 
silver pieces are given, naturally the two former when 
marriages fall under the category of first and second class. 


But by far the most distinctive and pictorial function 
of a French wedding is la quete, or collection for the poor. 
Next in interest to the bride herself is the demoiselle 
d'honneur, or bridesmaid, upon whom falls this conspicuous 
and graceful duty. A bride, distractingly pretty although 
she may be, has no part to play. All that is required of 
her is automatic collectedness and dignity. But the demoi- 
selle d'honneur is under the necessity of acting a rdle, and, 
as a rule, most beautifully is it acted. The ceremony 
come to an end, the organist plays a prelude, and two 
figures detach themselves from the wedding party, both 
selected for personal charm, sprightliness, and savoir-faire 
I am compelled to use a word for which we have no 
equivalent both, also, perfectly dressed. The gar$on 
d'honneur, or best man, wears dress-coat, white tie, waist- 
coat and gloves, his companion the newest, most elegant 
toilette de mile, or carriage costume. She gives her left 
hand to her cavalier, in her right holding a velvet bag ; 
then the pair step airily forth, the most engaging smile, 
the most finished bow soliciting and acknowledging dona- 
tions. It is the prettiest sight imaginable ; and no wonder 
that the velvet bag rapidly fills, as, having made their way 
down the nave, lady and cavalier make the round of the 
church. And the name of the charming qutttise invariably 
figures in the society column of the Figaro or local paper, 
a testimony to spirit, grace, and beauty. 

A wedding gift in the form of a cheque shocks French 
susceptibilities. But at bridal receptions English taste is 
equally offended by the exhibition of the entire trousseau. 
In one of her essentially Parisian novels that delightful 
writer, Madame Bentzon, describes this feature, or rather 
animadverts upon such a display. The author of "Tche- 
velek," however, has consorted so much with the Anglo- 
Saxon world that, although Parisian to the tips of her 
fingers, she sees certain things through English and Trans- 
atlantic spectacles. The spreading before everybody's eyes 


of slips and stockings, no matter how elaborate, evoked 
delicate irony from her pen. 

It must not be supposed that, to use a homely simile, 
bride and bridegroom are yet out of the wood. A ball 
often follows breakfast or reception, the newly married pair 
stealing away in the small hours of the night, like hunted 
hares compelled to covert flight. This remark especially 
holds good with the middle and humbler ranks, and 
with provincial life. Society, following English initiative 
in everything, as I have said, has inaugurated English 

In one respect all unions resemble each other, and up 
to a certain point differ from our own. Family life in 
France is a wheel within a wheel, a piece of closely im- 
plicated machinery, a well-welded-together agglomeration 
of social and material interests. Marriage is not wholly a 
dual affair. Willy-nilly, brides and bridegrooms enter a 
clan, become members of a patriarchal tribe. Hence the 
parental inquisition on both sides, that minute investigation 
of character, circumstances, and family history so foreign 
to insular notions. Hence the widespread, I am tempted 
to say incalculable, effects of worldly ruin, loss of reputa- 
tion, or other misfortune. A blow falls crushingly not only 
upon the immediate victim or culprit, but upon every one 
of their blood or bearing their name. 

A French writer who knew England well once remarked 
that "Ce"sar Birotteau" could not have been written of 
English commercial life. In that country a bankrupt ruins 
himself, not his entire family. 

And some years ago, when walking with an old friend 
in Dijon, he said to me 

" Did you observe that nice-looking girl I saluted just 
now ? Poor thing ! she can never marry, her uncle having 
failed dishonourably in business." 

An untarnished record, a roof-tree at which none can 
point a finger ; last, but far from least, an accession rather 


than a diminution of well-being such is the ideal of a 
French Ccelebs in search of a wife. 

" Find me an English wife," a bachelor friend once said 
to me in all seriousness. "Your recommendation will 
suffice. Provided you consider the lady a suitable partner 
for me, I shall be entirely satisfied. I place my fortune in 
your hands." 

A highly characteristic incident. 



IN most French households women reign with un- 
challenged sway ; they wield " all the rule, one 
empire." Let not such feminine headship be sum- 
marily attributed to uxoriousness on the one side or to a 
masterful spirit on the other. The condition has been 
brought about by a combination of circumstances, moral 
and material, social and economic. To begin with, the 
Frenchwoman possesses in a wholly unsurpassed degree 
the various aptitudes that shine in domestic and business 
management. She is never at a loss, never muddle-headed, 
always more than able to hold her own. The secret of 
this unrivalled capacity is concentration. A Frenchwoman's 
mental and physical powers are not frittered away upon 
multifarious objects. She is not at one and the same time 
a devotee of society, a member of a political association, 
an active crusader in some philanthropic cause, a champion 
golfer, tennis, or hockey player, or what is called a " Church 
worker." Thus it comes about that the French feminine 
mind is freer than that of her Anglo-Saxon sister, her 
bodily powers are subject to much less wear and tear. 
And, perhaps, owing to the fact of idolized, over-indulged 
childhood, the Frenchwoman's will is stronger. She is less 
yielding, less given to compromise, and more authoritative. 
Nor do weaknesses, sentimentalities, or vapours impair 
such strengthful character. 

Certainly here and there you may find a French- 



woman who screams at a mouse or a spider, such whimsical 
timidity not in the least incapacitating her from the 
command of an army. Authority is her native element ; 
the faculty of organization is here an intuitive gift. Hardly 
necessary is it to dilate upon personal magnetism, the 
beauty, as Michelet wrote, "made up of little nothings," 
the conversation ofttimes describable in similar terms 
the acquired graces that strike us as natural endowments, 
Nature's partial liberality. No wonder, therefore, that for 
good or for evil the Salic law has ever been set at naught 
in French society, that alike chateau and cottage bow to 
one-sided law to feminine ukase. And who can say 
the great democracy of the Western world owes its name, 
perhaps its very existence, to a woman ? A quiet little 
bourgeoise, wife of an obscure journalist named Robert, we 
now learn, was the first to breathe the word " Republic " 
in conjunction with the name of France. In her modest 
salon about the year 1790 first took form and cohesion the 
project of a democratic government on the American 
model. Before her time one woman had saved France, and 
more than one had well-nigh wrought her downfall. Jeanne 
d'Arc, Madame de Maintenon, the Pompadour, not to 
mention another nearer our own time, are instances of 
" all the rule, one empire " exercised alas ! not always 
for the public weal by Frenchwomen. 

Financial conditions add immense weight to natural 
advantages. Except among the Micawber class, repre- 
sented in greater or less degree all the world over, a 
French wife is propertied ; she brings an equal share to 
the setting up of a household and the founding of a family. 
"With all my worldly goods I thee endow" is a formula 
applicable to bride as well as bridegroom, although in 
neither case is the endowment a free, unconditional gift. 
Respective interests are strictly safeguarded by the notary, 
a personage no less necessary to the middle and working 
classes than to the rich. No matter how inconsiderable a 


young woman's dowry, it is tied down to herself and her 
children with every legal formality. Some years since I 
attended the wedding of a village schoolmaster and a 
gamekeeper's daughter in Champagne. Each possessed 
money or land equivalent to about two hundred pounds, 
the two small fortunes, down to the minutest particular, 
being mentioned in the marriage contract. A wedding 
without settlements, as I have said, is an anomaly in 

In one respect at least there is no sexual inequality 
among our neighbours. My face is my fortune, was not 
the burden of peasant maidens even under the ancien 
rtgime. Whilst this feminine supremacy, I should 
perhaps say suzerainty, has been an evolutionary process 
in accordance with the fitness of things, it will occasionally 
wear an inconsistent or autocratic look. I well remember 
one instance in point, scenes that reminded me of Balzac. 
Many and many a time have I sat down to the Friday 

table of my kind old friend Madame G , near Dijon 

(long since, alas ! gone to her rest), the family party con- 
sisting of her son, a man of fifty, a widower, his boy, a strip- 
ling of eighteen, and her son-in-law, a widower also, and 
well past sixty. The season being September, as soon as 
the early second dtjeuner was over these men, with uncles 
and cousins living close by, would set off for a seven or 
eight hours' tramp in search of wild boars in the forest or 
quails on the plain. 

Eggs and potatoes at half-past ten or eleven o'clock, 
eggs and potatoes at the half-past six o'clock dinner 
reminded me of Mrs. Micawber's "heel of Dutch cheese, 
an unsuitable nutriment for a young family." Madame 

G 's bill of fare did not certainly seem adequate in the 

case of famished sportsmen footing it for seven or eight 
hours on a brisk September day. The three men might 
covertly eye my own tiny slice of cold meat, the priestly 
ordinance not applying to Protestants, but they said 


nothing. My hostess, indeed, could very well have passed 
for the mistress of a pension bourgeoise> son, son-in-law, and 
grandson being poorly paying or indebted boarders. Once, 
indeed, rebellion broke out, taking a humorous turn. A 
tempting dish of cold pasty, nicely sliced, on its way to 
myself, came within reach of my neighbour's fork. The 
opportunity was not to be resisted. " Ma foi ! for once 
I'll be a Protestant too ! " ejaculated madame's elderly 
son-in-law, as he spoke prodding a goodly morsel. His 
companions chuckled, the maid tittered, and, seeing that 
her mistress did not take the joke amiss, after having 
served me she plumped down the dish before the three 
wistful men. 

Benignant, even-tempered, in other respects far from 
egotistical, my dear old friend regarded motherhood as a 
patent conferring undivided and ever-enduring authority. 
When her son or son-in-law attempted to discuss any 
subject that menaced such authority, she would cut them 
short with the remark, " I am your mother, and must know 
best." And so kindly and affectionate was the dear soul 
that the yoke was complacently borne. 

Here I anticipate an objection. How, it may be asked, 
is the foregoing statement reconciled with the stability of 
the Third Republic? Has it not been said, and indeed 
proved again and again, that the vast majority of French- 
men have shaken off sacerdotalism, whilst their wives and 
mothers for the most part remain wedded to priestly 
ordinance ? Where, then, some will ask, is the feminine 
influence you speak of, since it is evidently neutral in 
political affairs ? 

My answer to these observations is short. There is 
one point, and one only, on which a Frenchman, no matter 
how easy going, is unyielding, and that is his vote. And 
the natural good sense of Frenchwomen stands them here 
in good stead. No matter the force of their own con- 
victions, they accept a compromise based on expediency. 


Setting aside fireside relations and the principle of give and 
take, there is the question of family interest, the stability 
of the Republic from a domestic aspect. How largely 
middle-class fortunes are bound up with the Government, 
the prevailing system of bureaucracy tells us. Here is an 
instance in point. The other day I received what is called 
a fait ~e part, or printed notice of a friend's death, giving, 
according to fashion, the name and occupation of her male 
relations. Of the ten specified two only belonged to 
professions, one was in the army, two were priests, the 
remaining five held Government appointments. Roughly 
speaking, I should say this is typical, that in most bourgeois 
families the proportion of Government officials would be as 
five to five. No, wonder, then, that wives and mothers 
discreetly keep silent when elections come round. The 
great minister Sully used to say that tillage and pasturage 
were the fountains of French wealth. To a large section 
of society, it is the Government that now usurps these 
functions, playing the part of a Providence. And, as I 
have shown elsewhere, bureaucracy, that is to say, an 
income moderate maybe but sure, suits French character, 
which is the very antipodes of American go-ahead wear 
and tear. It is rare indeed in France that you find 
Gambetta's counterpart, " an old man of forty." But when 
are Americans young ? 

I should not call the average Frenchwoman cosmo- 
politan. Parental adulation, exclusive surroundings, often 
conventual bringing-up, unfit the average Frenchwoman 
for international or social give and take. Small indeed is 
the number who could say with Montaigne, " I am not 
guilty of the common error of judging another by myself ; 
I easily believe what in another's humour is contrary to 
my own." The lady president of a philanthropic associa- 
tion confided to me the other day that this uncompromising- 
ness greatly handicapped such movements. " Every woman 
here interested in works of benevolence or social progress," 


she said, "has her own scheme and will not fall in with 
the plans of others." Anything like the Primrose League 
or Women's Liberal Associations is out of the question in 
France. Hence it comes about that when an Englishman 
succumbs to French charms, for him the die is doubly cast 
He must thenceforward forswear English speech, native 
land, and a career among his own people for his wife's 
sake. It is a case of love being lord of all with a 
vengeance. Many English wives of Frenchmen, especially 
among the Protestant community, spend their lives happily 
enough in France. French mistresses of English homes 
are rare indeed. When Madame de Stae'l pronounced 
exile to be worse than death, she voiced the convictions 
of her countrywomen. 

I was lately lunching with an old friend in Paris, 
a country gentleman from the Indre much interested in 
the question of French colonization. 

" One great obstacle," he observed, " is the loathing of 
my countrywomen for any place out of France. The other 
day a young friend, a settler in one of your Australian 
countries, was here on a visit, and wrote back to his 
partner that he was looking about for a wife. ' For heaven's 
sake wait till you return, and marry an English girl,' wrote 
the other ; ' Frenchwomen in a foreign colony are in- 
supportable.' " 

But la Frangaise est cwant tout rntre, "the French- 
woman is first and foremost a mother," our sisters over 
the water tell us. Filial, wifely, civic duty, each must 
give way to the maternal. Thus words are hardly strong 
enough in which to express a Frenchwoman's disapproval 
of Anglo-Indian wives who remain at their husbands' 
sides, sending home their young children to be educated. 
The secret of English colonization lies not so much 
in national energy as in the tremendous strength of 
the marriage tie. A celibate bureaucracy, however 
numerous or efficient, cannot compete with the family life 


characterizing Greater Britain societies, no matter under 
what sky, offering the conditions of home. This matter is 
now occupying politicians and philanthropists. A society 
has been lately formed for the purpose of forwarding the 
emigration of women, and the lady president, with whom 
I lately had a long conversation, spoke hopefully of its 
future. The Protestant pastor and missionary, she told me, 
are of the very greatest value in the movement, as, being 
fathers of families, they can offer temporary homes to 
young women awaiting situations ; most of these, of course, 
eventually marry. 

The Frenchwoman does not exaggerate. She is par 
excellence the mother. Why the first maternal duty should 
always be relegated to a wet nurse I have never been able 
to discover. In every other respect her devotion knows 
no bounds. Indeed, were I asked to state the ambition of 
Frenchwomen generally, I should say that it is neither to 
shine in art, literature, science, nor philanthropy, but to 
become a grandmother ; the adored, over-fondled son or 
daughter revived in a second generation evokes devotion 
amounting to idolatry an idolatry shared by the other 
sex. As we all know, one of the best Presidents of the Third 
Republic that staunch Republican, splendid advocate, and 
true patriot, Jules Grevy here found his pitfall. Poor 
President Grevy ! Not that he loved France less, but that 
he loved his little granddaughters more. With Victor 
Hugo, I'art d* etre grandpere had become infatuation. 

Nothing is ever done by halves in France. Of late 
years the disastrous effects of over-indulged childhood has 
become a public question. Could parents be prevented 
from spoiling their one boy or girl by law, there is little 
doubt that a Bill to that effect would be laid before the 
Chamber to-morrow. Other means of arousing general 
attention have been tried. In Paris just now the stage 
has usurped the functions of the pulpit By turns, wet- 
nursing, alcoholism, and other social evils are treated 


dramatically, the success of 1902 being "La Course au 
Flambeau." This piece turns entirely upon the ex- 
aggerated and mischievous self-sacrifice of parents on 
behalf of their children. The heroine, a rdle superbly 
played by Madame Rejane, is a middle-aged lady belong- 
ing to the upper middle class who has an only daughter, 
and who for this incarnation of selfishness, inanition, and 
lackadaisicalness, sacrifices not only her husband's and her 
own well-being, but her conscience. In fact, she becomes 
virtually the murderess of her aged mother. It was in- 
teresting to note the behaviour of the vast audience. No 
love-story, no intrigue, no humorous episode relieved the 
fireside tragedy. A piece of domestic realism, an everyday 
story, held every one spellbound. When you ask French 
folks if this or any other crying evil is likely to be lessened 
by sermonizing on the stage, however, they shake their 
heads. It happened that my companion at the theatre 
was a young French lady, earning her livelihood as 
secretary in a business house. The piece naturally in- 
terested her greatly, and here are her comments 

" It is the greatest possible unkindness of parents to 
wrap their children up in cotton-wool. Look at my own 
case. I was brought up in the belief that life was to be 
one prolonged fairy tale ; that I need only hold out my 
hand, and everything I wanted would drop into it. I well 
remember one birthday. Throughout the day my parents 
told me I should do as I liked ; I might ask for anything 
and everything in their power to bestow. After dejeuner 
we went to the Jardin d'Acclimatation, where I rode in a 
goat-chaise, on the elephant's back, had ices, cakes, sweet- 
meats, and heaven knows what. Do you suppose I was 
satisfied ? Not in the least. The day ended in tears and 
sulkiness. And at eighteen, in consequence of family 
losses, instead of being dowered and married, having fine 
toilettes, servants, and every luxury, I found myself com- 
pelled to turn out into the world to earn my bread." 


Which she had done, however, with the best grace 

One word in conclusion. If maternal devotion at 
times proves a snare, how often in France does it cast a 
halo around homely brows! The honoured President of 
the Third Republic does not here stand alone. Were the 
history of illustrious Frenchmen scanned from this point of 
view, we should find many a one, like M. Loubet, owing 
the opportunities of success to a peasant-born mother. 
And the well-known acknowledgment of the newly elected 
President, the halting on his triumphal entry into Monte" - 
limar in order to embrace that venerable mother, was an 
incident moistening every French eye, warming every 
French heart. M. Loubet's popularity was straightway 



A FOREIGNER suddenly plunged into French 
society and quitting it without any chance of 
modifying first impressions would affirm that 
there were no single women in France that the spinster, 
the old maid, did not exist. 

Certainly there is no equivalent over the water to a 
considerable element in English social life. We might 
vainly search the eighty-six departments and the Terri- 
toire de Belfort for a Bath or a Clifton, towns or suburbs 
largely peopled by rich maiden ladies. Nor in the 
provinces is to be found a counterpart of the unmarried, 
gentlewoman, with her handsome establishment, her grooms, 
gardeners, and equipages, all under first-rate management, 
all betokening the most complete independence and a wide 
outlook upon life, in many cases single life being a pure 
matter of choice. Spinsterhood must be looked for else- 
where in France. The feminine world of fashion generally 
hides grey hairs and lost illusions in the convent boarding- 
house. Here and there devotion and philanthropy outside 
such walls are resorted to, rarely social distractions or active 
life. In the upper ranks celibate womanhood effaces itself, 

Before turning to the army of lady doctors, dentists, 
professors, artists, and authors, let us consider their ill- 
advised sisters, the tens of thousands who virtually retire 
from the world simply because they happen to be un- 
married. Much is to be said for their own view of the 



case. I can, indeed, conceive no more mortifying position 
than that of a French girl growing elderly under her 
mother's wing. Take the matter of money, for instance. 
So long as her mother lives, an unmarried daughter, no 
matter her age, is treated like a child. Immediately an 
English girl leaves school she has her allowance for dress 
and personal expenses. In France it is the parent who 
pays for everything, New Year's gifts or ttrennes taking 
the place of pocket-money. I well remember the astonish- 
ment of a French lady at seeing an English girl of twenty- 
five write out a cheque in her own name. Such a thing, 
she informed me, she had never heard of. 

Such pecuniary dependence is not only galling ; it 
stultifies and renders the individual unfit for future conduct 
of practical affairs. How much, moreover, may daily 
happiness often depend upon what look like trifles, among 
these the possession of a little money, and upon the un- 
fettered use of that little! But French "old maids of 
thirty " or even more must have no innocent little secrets, 
no private generosities, no harmless mysteries. The 
demoiselle in the eyes of her family remains a perpetual 
minor. In a society hemmed round with ordinance and 
traditional etiquette, a young or even middle-aged woman 
of rank and position could not possibly set up house- 
keeping on her own account. She would be at once set 
down as eccentric, a kind of Bohemian, and be tabooed by 
society. And bringing up has totally unfitted her for an 
independent life. Never accustomed to walk out or travel 
alone, always chaperoned when paying visits, her reading, 
amusements, friends chosen for her, her notions of etiquette 
in harmony with such restrictions, no wonder that she 
regards her life as a failure, that the convent or convent 
pension are regarded as harbours of refuge. Caprice, 
disappointments, a spirit of self-sacrifice, the belief in a 
vocation, will induce many a girl to take the veil before 
crossing the rubicon, the twenty-fifth birthday dubbing her 


as a spinster. And to the old maid of thirty or thirty-five 
whose dowry or personal attractions have not secured a 
partner, the convent offers the cheapest possible provision 
for life. Ten thousand francs, four hundred pounds paid 
down, and the recluse is housed, fed, clothed, and cared 
for till the end of her days. Seclusion, moreover, is a salvo 
to her own dignity. A nun is no longer regarded in the 
light of une vieille fille ; her calling has not only sanctity 
about it, but good repute. The step is invariably approved of. 

More especially is a recluse praised who buries herself 
alive from family considerations, giving up home, friends, 
individuality, for the sake perhaps of a younger sister, 
perhaps of a younger brother. We must bear in mind the 
fact that in the upper ranks, in what is called la socittt, no 
girl has any chances whatever of marrying without a 
sufficient dowry. And let us not on this account set down 
all Frenchmen of this class as money-hunters. Official and 
professional incomes are a third lower than with us, the 
cost of living as certainly a third higher. Thus it comes 
about that officers of rank and men holding official positions 
cannot possibly set up housekeeping without additional 
means. From the money point of view wedlock must be 
essentially a partnership. 

Realizing the absolute necessity of a dowry, then, an 
elder sister will sometimes betake herself to a convent in 
order that a younger may make a brilliant or suitable 
marriage. Quite possibly, also, she may act thus on a 
brother's behalf, enabling him by the same means to add 
to family wealth and prestige. No sacrifice is considered 
too great for la famille in France. 

Four hundred pounds is the minimum sum accepted by 
religious houses as a dowry, which may, of course, reach 
any figure. The convent pension or boarding-house is also 
regarded as an unexceptionable retreat for single ladies of 
means and gentility. Expenses in such establishments are 
moderate, but vary according to style and accommodation. 


Here and there devotional exercises and works of 
charity are made a career of by rich single women pre- 
ferring to remain in the world. Except at charity bazaars 
and similar functions, these ladies a small minority are 
seldom met with. You may, indeed, go into French 
society for years and never encounter a single lady that 
is to say, one who has grown, or is growing, old without 
the wedding ring. To find out what becomes of the 
French demoiselle we must refer to statistics. In 1900 no 
less than sixty-four thousand women were immured for 
life within convent walls ! 

A very different train of thought is called up by a 
glance at the middle class and work-a-day world. The 
doctor's gown has long been worn by Frenchwomen. Not 
long since a second Portia achieved a notable triumph at 
the assizes at Marseilles. Lady solicitors practise in 
Paris. In country towns, as well as in the capital, you 
may see the inscription on the door-plate, " Mademoiselle 
So-and-so, chirurgien-dentiste " (" surgeon-dentist "). In a 
little town I know, Balzac's favourite Nemours, scene of 
" Ursule Mirouet," a young lady dentist and her sister have 
a flourishing practice. French peasants and working folks 
seldom indulge in the luxury of false teeth, but an aching 
tooth is soon got rid of, and for the modest fee of two 
francs mademoiselle adroitly manipulates the forceps. 
Lady occulists may now also be consulted. In the arena 
of education, primary and advanced, Frenchwomen run 
almost a neck and neck race with the other sex. Forty- 
three thousand women in 1900 occupied positions in State 
schools, numbering only twenty thousand less than male 
professors and teachers. By far the larger number of these 
women teachers are, of course, unmarried, and if such 
careers are neither brilliant nor a fulfilment of youthful 
dreams, they are dignified, useful, and doubtless often con- 
tented and even happy. 

A recent novel by a new writer that I can warmly 


commend to all readers, " L'Un vers 1'Autre," gives inter- 
esting glimpses of a girls' lyce'e, or high school, and a 
group of lady professors. In Madame Th. Bentzon's new 
story, " Au dessus de I'abime," the same subject is treated 
from a different point of view. Both volumes are highly 
instructive. Unfortunately, few French novelists depict 
middle-class life as it is in reality. Were such a task 
taken in hand by competent writers, our neighbours, their 
ways and modes of thought, would not be so often 
grotesquely misconceived. 

The youngish unmarried lady doctor, occulist, dentist, 
advocate, or professor naturally enjoys an amount of 
freedom vainly sighed for by her sisters in fashionable 
society. She reads what books she pleases, her theatre- 
going is not restricted to the Come'die Franchise and the 
Ode"on, acquaintances of the other sex may pay their 
respects to her when she is at home to friends. But the 
freedom from restraint enjoyed by English and American 
spinsterhood would look subversive, anarchical, Nihilistic 
in French eyes. 

Some years since I was staying with friends at Nantes 
who often invited the lady principal of a technical school 
for girls to dinner. Upon one occasion another habitut 
of the house was present, a man upwards of sixty. On 

mademoiselle rising to say good night, Monsieur T 

begged that he might escort her home, the house being a 
few minutes off. Drawing herself up haughtily, the lady 
replied (she was thirty-five at least), " I am greatly your 
debtor, monsieur, but my maid awaits me in the corridor." 
Imagine a middle-aged lady not being able to accept the 
arm of a fellow-guest for a few hundred yards ! Another 
anecdote forcibly brings out the French mode of regarding 
these matters. An American lady journalist living in Paris 
told me that one day she received a visit from a French 
acquaintance, rather friend, of the other sex, a busy 
man, who had most kindly found time to help her in 


some literary transactions. The pair were both middle- 
aged, the lady being slightly older than her visitor. By 
the time the business in hand had been discussed dinner 
was ready, Miss S keeping her own bonne, and occupy- 
ing a pretty little flat. 

" Why not stay and partake ? " she asked, surely a very 
natural invitation under the circumstances ! 

For a moment the other hesitated, the invitation 
evidently tempted ; then in a semi-paternal tone he asked 
her if she had ever entertained friends of the other sex 
before. On her reply in the negative, he shook her hand 
in the friendliest fashion, saying, "Then be advised by 
me and do not begin." 

This gentleman had doubtless in his mind the ever- 
prying eye and ofttimes too ready tongue of the concierge 
or portress of Parisian blocks, an encroacher upon privacy 
fortunately unknown among ourselves. The janitrix of 
French doorways is not a popular personage, and youngish 
ladies living alone are especially subject to inquisitorial 
observation. As a rule the French single lady never does 
live alone. She boards with some other member of her 
family or with friends, the strictest etiquette guiding every 

The Portias, ^Esculapias, and lady graduates in letters 
and science naturally do not make the cloister their retreat 
in advancing years. For single women of very small 
means, the rentiere or annuitant of a thousand or two 
francs, in certain country towns we find what is called Une 
Maison de Retraite, or associated home. One of these I 
visited some time since at Rheims. This establishment 
which is under municipal patronage, offers rooms, board, 
attendance, laundress, and even a small plot of garden, for 
sums varying from sixteen to twenty-four pounds per 
inmate, the second sum, of course, ensuring better rooms 
and more liberal fare. Special arrangements are made for 
unmarried ladies. Whether they like it or no, they are 


expected to take their meals in a separate dining-room. 
The advantages of such a system in France are very 
great, single women of small means being thus afforded 
protection and immunity from household cares. Except 
that the lodge gates are closed at ten o'clock p.m., personal 
liberty is not interfered with. Needless to say that no 
breath of scandal must reach these precincts. Only 
immaculate respectability possesses an Open Sesame. My 
impression was one of prevailing cheerfulness and content. 
But the plan would never answer in England. The insular 
character rebels against restrictions, however well-inten- 
tioned, and where could be found scores and scores of 
petites rentttres, professional women and governesses, whose 
earnings and economy have ensured them an income in 
old age ? Further, Englishwomen can live alone, French- 
women cannot do so. A series of delightful old maids 
have been rendered immortal by later English novelists. 
Our confreres of the other sex over the water, from Balzac 
downward, often seem to regard spinsterhood as a veritable 

It remains for some new writer to rehabilitate this 
section of the beau sexe, to portray those types of woman- 
hood described by the late Lord Shaftesbury as " adorable 
old maids." 



OUR neighbours have adopted the word " comfort- 
able" without, at least in an insular sense, 
acclimatizing the thing. And here it may be 
as well to mention that whilst Gallicizing this adjective 
they were but borrowing what belonged to them. Con- 
fortable, naturalized by the French Academy in 1878, is 
a derivative of the English "comfortable," but "comfort- 
able " in its turn is a derivative of the old French verb 
conforter to comfort spiritually or morally, to impart 
courage. Thus Corneille wrote, " Dieu conforta cette ame 
desolee," "God comforted that desolate soul." 

Le confortable, now so frequent on French lips, is used 
strictly in a material sense, implying the conveniences 
of life and the enjoyment of well-being generally. How 
widely standards of material comfort differ in the two 
countries is forcibly brought home to us by the con- 
dition of the domestic help. In France both sexes 
betake themselves to household work much more readily 
than with us. The valet de chambre, or chamberman, is 
wholly unknown on this side of the water. That domestic 
service is popular, the enormous number of young French- 
women who seek situations here as nursemaids and ladies' 
maids abundantly proves. Expatriation is not only dis- 
tasteful to the French mind, it is positively loathsome ; 
yet the supply of French domestic servants must be con- 
siderably in excess of the demand. And it is by no means 



English comfort that attracts. Provided these reluctant 
strangers within our gates get good wages and good food, 
they are utterly indifferent to what are looked upon as 
absolute necessaries by their English fellows. Paradoxi- 
cally enough, servants' comfort is the last thing thought 
of in democratic France. The cosy, curtained, carpeted 
sitting-room of our own cooks and housemaids, the sofa 
on which they can stretch weary limbs, the bedrooms 
furnished every whit as comfortably as their employers', 
the bathrooms at their disposal all these are non-existent ; 
and so ineradicable is force of habit that I doubt very 
much if the introduction of any would be much appreciated. 
In private hotels and the more spacious flats of Paris 
servants sleep under the master's roof; they have also a 
room for meals called I'office, but in nowise answering to 
our servants' hall or sitting-room. The office is a bare, 
uncarpeted, uncurtained apartment, containing long table 
and upright chairs, against the walls being huge linen 
presses and cupboards containing china and cutlery. But 
the bonne, or maid-of-all-work, in even a fair-sized and 
expensive flat, lives under conditions that Miss Slowboy 
would have found intolerable. I speak with the authority 
of oft-renewed experience, having stayed in many boarding- 
houses and private flats in the eighth and seventeenth 
arrondissements, both handsome, modern, and rechercht 
quarters. The kitchens could only be called mere slips ; 
to dignify them by any other name were a misnomer. 
Just room had been allowed for two chairs, on which the 
one or two servants could sit down to meals, no more. 
But if comfort was out of the question downstairs, equally 
absent was it from the attic where they slept in the roof, 
stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold during winter, and, 
worse of all, tiny compartment of a thickly populated 
beehive. Not only are domestic servants, thus housed, but 
shop assistants and others, with what dire results we may 


" Terrible indeed is the condition of country girls 
who come to Paris as maids-of-all-work," a Parisian friend 
observed to me the other day. "Drudging from morning 
till night, half a day's holiday once a month, no other 
holidays throughout the year ; most often shut out of their 
employer's flat at night. This class is much to be pitied. 
But come to Paris these girls will, tempted by better 

And the daughter of this lady, being shown, on her 
visit to England, the comfortable bedroom and cosy, 
carpeted, curtained kitchen, with easy-chair of an English 
"general," could hardly believe her eyes. I have said 
elsewhere our neighbours of all classes are very indifferent 
to what in England is called comfort. Details regarded 
as strict necessaries here, over the water are luxuries, 
indulgences, often fads. 

On the other hand, domestic servants in France enjoy 
a laisser alter unknown with ourselves. Take the matter 
of uniform, for instance. The scrupulously neat black 
dress with speckless white apron and coquettish cap of our 
parlourmaids, the neat prints of our housemaids, the white 
dresses of our nursemaids, could never be attained by 
French housewives. If their domestic staff, according to 
insular notions, has a good deal to complain of as far as 
comfort goes, this comparative ease and unceremoniousness 
is doubtless an adequate compensation. A femme de 
chambre who helps the manservant in the housework, and 
at the same time acts as ladies' maid, dresses precisely 
as she pleases. She may be very particular or the reverse ; 
no notice is taken of her personal appearance. The scru- 
pulosity exacted of our neat-handed Phyllises would drive 
Jeanne or Marie mad. Nor is nonchalance confined to 
dress and outward nicety. Accustomed as they are to 
make themselves at home, French servants must find the 
atmosphere of an English home somewhat chilling. The 
free and easy existence on the other side of the Channel 


is much dearer to them than the comforts with which they 
are surrounded here. " Liberty, equality, fraternity " is a 
watchword that applies to the tongue as well as to laws 
and liberties in France. The privilege of making as much 
noise as one pleases is much more valued than that of 
spacious dining-rooms, easy-chairs, and comfortable sleeping 

In country houses I should say matters remain much 
as they were when Arthur Young made his wonderful tour 
of France a hundred and fifteen years ago. The woman 
servant's bedroom is often a mere niche in the kitchen. 
Dear old Justine of Burgundian memory ! Many a 
time have I seen you perform your simple toilette for 
mass undisturbed by the passing to and fro of mistress, 
master, young master, and guest. Justine's bedroom was 
a little chamber in the kitchen wall, rather an alcove a 
trifle wider than the recess of recumbent statue in church 
or cathedral. Now, the kitchen led to the back door, 
and the back door opened on to the high-road a stone's 
throw from church and village. It was, indeed, the most 
frequented portion of the house. Here the gentlemen 
prepared for their day's chase in the forest, and here the 
household assembled on Sunday morning before starting 
in a body for church. 

The midday meal would be left to cook itself, so, having 
carefully deposited her potatoes in the wood embers, and 
her potfe or savoury mess of meat and vegetables on the 
hob, Justine would step on to her bed, and unceremoniously 
don her black stuff gown, clean mob cap and kerchief, 
exchange carpet slippers for well-blacked shoon, and even 
sometimes replace one pair of coarse white stockings by 
another. No one paid any attention whatever to the dear 
blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked, childishly simple old thing close 
upon seventy, whose life from childhood upwards had been 
spent in the family. For many years Justine's wages had 
been 6 yearly; this sum gradually increased to 




dare say New Year's gifts making up 5 more. But at 
10 the wages stopped, and so well had Justine husbanded 
her resources that regularly as her employers she received 
her dividend in State rentes. 

It would have been interesting to learn the sum-total 
of Justine's earnings during her long service. A few years 
ago the faithful old servant went to her rest, dying under 
her master's roof, her hard-earned savings going to a some- 
what unsatisfactory daughter alas ! a much too common 
story in France. The mere fact of hoarding is often the 
only enjoyment of the hoarder. Justine belonged to a 
type fast, disappearing. It may be said, indeed, that the 
faithful old servants Balzac delighted to portray the 
Nanons, Gasselins, and Mariottes are already obsolete. 
Even in Justine's days bonnets were fast superseding the 
traditionary coiffe, and in France, as in England, cooks 
and housemaids began to be agog for change. I do not 
know if such is still the case, but twenty-five years ago, 
in spacious flats of large provincial cities, the servant's 
bedroom was often the kitchen. Soon after the Franco- 
Prussian war I wintered at Nantes with the widow of a 
late Preset Besides very large dining and drawing rooms, 
there were four or five good bedchambers in my hostess's 
handsome flat ; yet our nice Bretonne, the cook, slept 
and performed her toilet in a recess of what was both 
cook-room and scullery. 

As all travellers in France know, the peasants have often 
four-posters in their kitchens these of enormous propor- 
tions, and placed in alcoves, two sometimes facing each 
other. The habit has doubtless arisen partly from the 
excessive cold of French winters, partly, in former days, 
from fear of marauders. But in the more progressive 
districts the custom is fast dying out. No rich peasant 
builds himself a house at the present time without adding 
good airy bedrooms. More particularly is pride taken in a 
sightly staircase, a feature of domestic architecture formerly 


represented by the outside ladder leading to hayloft or 

A good-natured indifference to what is called comfort 
in English eyes characterizes French country life generally- 
Folks so far from being fastidious about themselves are 
not likely to pamper their households. A stockman boarded 
by wealthy landowners I know, shares the sleeping accom- 
modation of his beeves, having for bedstead a wooden shelf 
adjoining the neat-house ; for bed, plenty of straw. Alike 
men and women servants kept in large farmhouses perform 
their ablutions at the pump hardly, perhaps, with the 
thoroughness and gusto of Trooper George ! 

Once more, to recall the immortal picture-gallery, I may 
mention that even France, the country above all others "rich 
in all-saving common sense," has its Mrs. Jellabys. One 
philanthropic lady I knew made over her considerable 
fortune to the town she inhabited, constituting herself a 
municipal annuitant. The property was to be ultimately 
laid out in a training farm and dairy school for Protestant 
and Catholic orphan girls. It happened that a newly 
engaged lady companion and housekeeper suggested the 
desirability of water-jugs and hand-basins for the indoor 
servants cook, housemaid, and man-of-all-work, who 
waited at table, drove the brougham, and made himself 
generally useful. The benevolent chatelaine at first laughed 
the notion to scorn. " Toilette services for domestics ! 
Whoever heard of such a thing ! " she cried, finally allowing 
herself to be inveigled into the startling innovation. This 
happened twenty years ago, but I have no doubt that in 
out-of-the-way country places the primitiveness of Madame 
G 's arrangements might still be matched. 

One side of this general laisser aller in France would 
be much appreciated by many housewives here. There 
is no punctilious differentiation of labour among French 
servants at least, none to be compared with that prevailing 
in England. The scrupulosity of our ladylike Ethels and 


Mabels in black dresses and white streamers is wanting ; 
but, on the other hand, Louise and Pauline are much less 
fussy, stand less upon their dignity, and in emergencies prove 
more useful, being generally able to turn their hands to 
anything. Again, Louise and Pauline are less ambitious, 
exacting, and flighty. They do not require fixed hours for 
pianoforte or mandoline lessons, cycling, or walks with 
young men. Indeed, etiquette is as strict among well-con- 
ducted women servants as among ladies moving in society. 
A respectable French girl occupying a good place would 
never dream of going to a music-hall or any other place of 
entertainment with her betrothed only ; some member of 
her family or friend must accompany them. And the lover 
of a well-conducted maidservant in France is invariably 
her betrothed no mere hanger-on, changed on the slightest 
provocation. Sober of dress and behaviour, by no means 
wedded to routine, usually excessively obliging, the French 
bonne or femme de chambre often possesses qualities that 
compensate for English fastidiousness and attention to 
detail. But it is in the essential, the palmary characteristic 
of the nation that domestic servants shine. Not for 
pleasure's sake, not in order to dress according to the very 
latest fashion, not that the eyes of some amorous swain 
may be dazzled, does a Louise or a Pauline put up with 
what is ofttimes excessively laborious service. One object, 
and one only, is ever before their eyes, those of a marks- 
man no more intently fixed upon the target. These deft- 
handed, brisk French girls, fortunately for themselves, are 
utterly without sentimentality or false pride. Their dream 
is eminently practical, their life's aim, not the stockingful 
of their ancestors, but instead a respectable account with 
that universal banker of French folks the State. Very 
likely, as in Justine's case, saving for saving's sake may be 
the only reward of lifelong drudgery. Between virtues 
and foibles the partition as often as not is a mere Japanese 
wall a sheet of thread-paper. Frugality degenerates into 


avarice ; the inestimable quality of thrift becomes sordid- 

Here is a telling instance in point. A few years ago 
the chatelaine of a fine chateau in northern France took 
me for a day or two to her winter residence in the pro- 
vincial capital. A former woman servant, now elderly, 
acted as caretaker of the spacious hotel, vacating it when 
the family returned in November. " You know France so 
well that you will easily believe what I am going to tell 
you," observed my hostess. "Yonder good woman has 
property bringing in two hundred pounds a year, yet for 
the sake of earning a little more to add to it she takes 
charge of our house throughout the winter, living absolutely 
alone and doing what work is necessary." 

In England a superannuated cook or housekeeper so 
situated would, of course, settle down in a tiny semi- 
detached villa, keep a neat maid, and sit down to afternoon 
tea in a black silk gown. Other countries, other ideals ! 
Although the Balzacian types have all but disappeared, 
good servants here and there grow grey in good places. A 
stay of ten, fifteen, or even twenty years under the same 
roof is not unknown. And the criterion of a good place is 
the facility it affords for putting by ; comfort, leisure, 
holidays count for very little. Wages, New Year's gifts, 
and perquisites stand before every other consideration. 
The lightening of M. Thiers' herculean task in paying off 
the Prussian war indemnity is generally attributed to the 
peasant. But the amount of money invested by domestic 
servants must be colossal. I should accredit cooks and 
housemaids, footmen and valets de chambre, with a large 
share of that astounding settlement. Many a Tilly Slow- 
boy, even a Marchioness, doubtless had a hand in the 
patriotic scoring-off. Let us, then, not too harshly judge a 
weakness that English people, alas! are guileless of 
namely, care over-much for the morrow. 

THE tricolour scarf of the French dfyutt confers 
privileges that may well make their brother legis- 
lators here green with envy. His services are 
remunerated almost as liberally as those of a general or a 
bishop ; he travels first class free of charge on French rail- 
ways ; whenever a review is given in honour of imperial or 
royal guests, with senators and diplomats he enjoys the 
privilege of a special train, stand, and refreshment booth, his 
wife and daughter being included in the invitation. State 
functions, metropolitan and provincial celebrations, the 
entrte of the Elyse"e, are enjoyed by him, to say nothing of 
prestige and authority ; last, but not least, the much- 
coveted advantage of une existence assurSe, in other words, 
a fixed income. Is it any wonder that the Quay d'Orsay 
exercises magnetic influence, attracting recruits alike from 
learned, commercial, and rural ranks, and that politics 
indeed should be regarded in the light of a profession ? 

" Have you professional politicians in England ? " a 
Frenchman once asked me. I replied in the negative. 
Certainly we have no professional politicians as the terms 
are understood over the water. 

A deputy's pay is nine thousand francs, just 360. The 
sum of ten francs (8^.) is deducted monthly, and in return 
he receives what is called une carte de circulation, by virtue 
of which he is franked on every railway line throughout 
France, the sums deducted being made over to the railway 
companies. This concession dates from 1882 only. The 
i 113 


payment of members was regulated by Articles 96 and 97 
of the Constitution, March, 1849, and confirmed in February, 

A seat in the Chamber, therefore, secures the average 
income of a professional man or civil servant in France. 

Politics do not involve any sacrifice of material interests, 
rather the reverse. Hence it comes about that active 
careers are frequently exchanged for the rdle of legislator, 
and that many don the tricolour scarf as the soldier his 
uniform and the advocate his gown. The former must work 
hard and wait long before attaining the grade that entitles 
him to similar emoluments, and the latter must take count- 
less turns in the Salle des Pas Perdus before he is equally 
fortunate. Doctors, too, in country places, most of them 
begin to turn grey ere earning deputy's pay. 

The heterogeneous composition of the French Chamber 
thus becomes explicable. We need no longer wonder at 
the fact that hardly a calling but is here represented. 

In the sum-total of five hundred and ninety-one actual 
members we find soldiers, sailors, civil engineers, medical 
men, veterinary surgeons and chemists, priests, philosophers, 
mathematicians, professors and librarians, architects, archae- 
ologists, painters, etchers and engravers, academicians, his- 
torians, political economists, dramatists, men of letters and 
journalists, bankers, distillers, manufacturers, ironmasters, 
agriculturists and wine-growers, " sportsmen " thus cate- 
gorized, explorers and merchant captains, shoemakers, 
village schoolmasters, stonemasons, potters, compositors, 
miners, mechanics, and lastly, cabaretiers, or publicans. 

Nor is the variety of political groups hardly less note- 
worthy than that of rank or calling. Here are the different 
parties represented in the present Chamber : Republican, 
qualified by the following terms radical, revolutionary, 
revisionist, nationalist, anti-ministerial, plebiscitaire, anti- 
semite, moderate, socialist, progressive, liberal, independant, 
Catholic, conservative, radical-socialist, socialist-collectivist, 


Christian-revisionist, Blanquists, patriote-revolutionary, in- 
dependent, parliamentary, and a further group under the 
head of action liberal. 

Among the miscellaneous labels we find adherents of 
the Union ctimocratique and of the Appel an Peuple, royalist, 
Liberal Right Conservative, Conservative rallie, Nationalist 
ptibiscitaire, anti-semite, and members of the Rtforme Par- 
ttmentaire. Thus composed, it might seem matter for 
wonder, not that the Chamber of Deputies is so often a 
scene of wildly divergent opinion, rather that concord should 
ever reign within its walls. We must bear in mind Thiers' 
famous axiom. The Republic is the form of government 
that divides Frenchmen the least. The French temperament 
is naturally far too critical to be satisfied with anything. 
The critical faculty dominates every other. 

It strikes an English observer oddly to discern tonsured 
heads and priestly robes on the legislator's bench at the 
Quai d'Orsay. In England our ecclesiastic must become 
to all intents and purposes a civilian before entering the 
House of Commons. 

Not so in France. From the assemblage of the Tiers 
Etat until our own day ministers of religion have been 
elected as parliamentary representatives. In 1789 some 
of the leading spirits of the National Assembly were Pro- 
testant pastors. A priest, the celebrated Abb Grgoire, 
voted for extension of civil rights to Jews and the abolition 
of slavery throughout the French dominions. 

Ministers of the Reformed faith no longer seek election 
as parliamentary representatives ; but Catholic priests have 
not as yet followed their example. The priest does not 
unfrock himself when he dons the tricolour badge ; he 
retains his ecclesiastical character, but forfeits the stipend 
of abbt or vicaire. Candidates for the legislature are 
generally what is called pretres libres, that is to say, men 
who have held no sacerdotal office paid for by the State. 

Two priests sit in the present Chamber; the first of 


these, the Abbe" Gayraud, who describes himself as a 
Rtyublicain Catholique* represents a constituency of Brest, 
was formerly professor of theology and scholastic philo- 
sophy at the Catholic University of Toulouse. The second, 
the Abb6 Lemrie, represents an electoral division of Haze- 
brouch (Nord), and was also formerly a professor in the 
Institution St. Franqois d'Assise of that town. A Christian 
Socialist, the abb6 has written many works on the subject. 

When it is considered that the fee of a country doctor 
is two francs, we need hardly wonder that, irrespective 
of other considerations, the practice of medicine is fre- 
quently exchanged for politics. No less than fifty-three 
doctors sit in the actual Chamber, many of these being 
former mayors of their town or commune, many also 
authors of medical works. One eccentric figure of the 
Chamber in 1897 was a certain Dr. Granier, member for 
Pontarlier. This gentleman had been converted to 
Mohammedanism in Algeria, and before entering the Palais, 
by performing the ablutions prescribed by ritual in the 
Seine. The doctor was somewhat ruthlessly unseated for 
preaching teetotalism. As an orthodox follower of Islam, 
probably also as an enlightened philanthropist, he began 
a veritable crusade against alcoholism. As the electorate 
of his arrondissement consisted largely of absinthe distillers 
and their work-people, the result might have been foreseen. 

Chemists to the number of eight keep science in 
countenance ; journalism is represented by forty-one 
members ; the army by forty-two retired officers ; and no 
less than a hundred and seventy-three avocats, avouts, 
and notaires represent the law. Surely in no other parlia- 
ment are so many legists got together ! 

If medicine and the law are occasionally renounced in 

favour of politics as a profession, it would seem that legal 

and medical parliamentarians are generally men of local 

distinction or prominence. Most often a long string of 

* See "Nos Deputes," Paris, 1904. 


dignities and titles follows their name ; they are, or have 
been, prtfets, mayors, conseillers gtntraux, presidents of 
commercial associations and societies, political, artistic, 
and philanthropic ; many are also authors. 

The same may be said of the numerous landed pro- 
prietors sitting in the Chamber one and all seem busiest 
of the busy, to have earned their seats by the performance 
of unremitting local services. 

The Reformed Church, as I have said, is no longer 
represented in the Palais Bourbon. As in the little hand- 
book before named denominations are not given, I have 
no means of apportioning the sum-total under the heads of 
Catholic, Protestant, or Jew. 

It may be asked, " Do French people uphold the pay- 
ment of members ? " My reply is, " Not all." On this 
subject a friend over the water lately expressed himself 
to me in somewhat strong terms. Politics, he averred, 
should not be regarded in the light of a profession, a 
livelihood. It may not be generally known that the 
senators are in receipt of deputy's pay, that is to say, 
three hundred and sixty pounds a year. 

In one respect certainly they manage these things 
better in France. A sitting of the Chamber can be as 
much enjoyed by ladies as by the other sex. Stuffiness 
on hot days within its walls reminds one of the House of 
Commons, but in this respect onlookers are no worse off 
than legislators. The accommodation for visitors, especially 
lady visitors, is generous in the extreme. 

The interior of the Palais Bourbon is an amphitheatre, 
galleries for visitors and members' pens or boxes facing the 
orators' tribunes, President's chair and table above. The 
two galleries, running to right and left, are divided into 
loges, or boxes, each holding about a dozen people, and the 
two first rows are gallantly reserved for ladies. Seated at 
our ease we undoubtedly are, but as on especially interest- 
ing occasions gentlemen are freely admitted to standing 


room behind these loges, the atmosphere becomes stifling 
But the discomfort is amply rewarded even on uneventful 
days. On the occasion of my own visit in 1900 it was 
M. Paul Deschanel, le beau Deschanel, as he was called, 
whose office it was to occupy the Presidential chair, con- 
stantly ring his big silver bell, and, failing that expedient, 
to hammer on the table with a ruler and shout, " Le 
silence, le silence, s'il vous plait." 

Nothing of great interest or importance was going on, 
but the heat was torrid. Members very likely wanted to 
have their say and rush off to the Exhibition ; anyhow, 
M. Paul Deschanel's silver bell and his ruler were perpetu- 
ally in request. Below the Presidential table and the 
orator's tribune were grouped the ushers, tall, gentlemanly 
looking individuals in blue dress-coats, wearing silver chains 
of office and swords. 

Votes are taken by members first holding up their 
hands affirmatively, next negatively, the voting urns being 
only used when important measures are proposed. These 
urns are then handed round to the deputies by the ushers 
as they sit in their places, the results being afterwards 
made known by the President. 

The handsome Palais Bourbon was begun by Girardini, 
an Italian, in 1722, for the Duchess of Bourbon, and com- 
pleted and enlarged by French architects a century later. 
The interior is well worth visiting in detail. 

The present Chamber, eighth legislative body of the 
Third Republic, was elected in April, 1902, and on June I 
was composed the so-called bureau cFdge, the president 
being the oldest deputy present. If Frenchwomen ever 
obtain seats in the Palais Bourbon, this dignity will certainly 
be abolished. The actual president of the bureau d'dge is 

It may here be mentioned that under no previous form 
of government has suffrage been both universal and direct. 
During the various parliamentary regimes of the Revolution, 


as M. Rambaud points out, manhood suffrage existed, but 
with certain restrictions. Under the Consulate and the 
first Empire freedom of vote ceased to exist, the so-called 
representatives of the people being mere nominees of the 

The Restoration and July monarchy allowed a restricted 
parliamentary franchise only, whilst the system of official 
candidatures under the second Empire nullified what 
was nominally manhood suffrage. I add that in 1870 
electoral rights were granted to the Jews of Algeria. As 
is seen in another chapter, the legislation of the last 
twenty years has been eminently progressive, especially 
with regard to education. There is, indeed, henceforth to 
be an educational fete held yearly in Paris, a second 
anniversary certainly no less worthy of commemoration 
than July 14. 

On June 19, 1872, was presented to the assembly, then 
sitting at Versailles, a petition signed by over a million 
citizens, for free, universal, and non-sectarian education. 
Ten years later the great Ferry laws carried out this pro- 
gramme in its entirety. The former date was lately 
celebrated in the Trocadero with great &lat, the President 
of the Republic and the Minister of Public Instruction 
being present at the inauguration. 

Thus Lex henceforth is to have a deservedly foremost 
place in the Republican calendar. 



ON a certain day during the Carnot Presidency, the 
aspect of French streets changed as if by magic. 
Squads of raw recruits in their economical, oft- 
times ill-fitting uniforms still met the eye, but the highly 
decorative and becoming ke"pi,* tunic, and red pantaloons 
were gone. A stroke of the pen at the War Office had 
suddenly robbed outdoor scenes of a traditionally national 
and picturesque element. No more than in England were 
we now perpetually reminded of armed peace. If the 
new regulation allowing officers to wear civilian dress when 
off duty somewhat eclipsed the gaiety of nations, we 
may be sure it was warmly welcomed by the army. How 
agreeable, for instance, in hot weather to don a light grey 
English-made suit and straw hat ! What a relief, that 
freedom from constantly recurring salute and the necessary 
acknowledgment ! The French officer of to-day, moreover, 
is as little like insular conception of him as can well be. 
Is he not pictured as a light-hearted, inconsequent, dashing 
fellow, a something of the D'Artagnan, a something of the 
Charles O'Malley about him, professional duties sitting 
lightly upon his shoulders, domestic cares quite shaken off? 
True to life were a directly opposite portrait that of an 
indefatigable worker, one to whom fireside joys and 

* Oddly enough, this word is of German origin, from the old German 
Kaeppiy diminutive of Kappe, "a cap." Kepi was accepted by the Academe 
in 1878. 



intellectual pleasures are especially dear, and to whom 
self-abnegation in the loftiest as well as the domestic sense 
becomes a second nature. 

I should say that in no class of French society more 
pre-eminently shine the virtues of forethought and dis- 
interestedness. The first-mentioned quality namely, 
thrift if not inherent, is implanted by his position. In- 
debtedness is impossible to a French officer. From pecu- 
niary embarrassments and involvements with money-lenders 
he is guarded by a code almost Draconian in its severity. 
Even before the reorganization of the army in 1872 an 
officer could not contract debts. A first infringement of 
this law entails a reprimand. Should the debts remain 
unpaid, the offender is suspended by the Minister of War 
for three years. At the end of that period he is summoned 
before a commission of five members, one of whom holds 
the same rank as himself. This commission, after the 
strictest investigation, has power to decide whether or no 
reinstatement is permissible. It will, of course, sometimes 
happen that the verdict means disgrace and a ruined 
career. But the uncompromising, unassailable solvency of 
the French army is without doubt a tremendous element of 
its moral strength. 

The D'Artagnan phase of military life is usually short- 
lived. After a few years more or less gaily and perhaps 
boisterously spent in Algeria, Tonquin, or Senegal, an 
officer returns to France and takes a wife. Wedded to 
domestic life and tenacious of the dignity implied in the 
designation pkre de famille are members of the French 
army. In no class are these privileges often more dearly 
purchased. Take the case, for instance, of a captain with- 
out any private means whatever, and whose bride brings 
him a small dowry ; their two incomes put together perhaps 
bring in something under three hundred pounds a year. 
Seeing the dearness of living in France, the necessity of 
keeping up appearances, and the liability to frequent 


removal from place to place, it is easy to understand the 
obligation of strict economy. Until recent years an officer 
could not wed a portionless bride, much less into a family 
without irreproachable antecedents. The young lady must 
not only have possessed capital bringing in an income of 
about fifty pounds yearly ; her parents or guardians must 
furnish the military authorities with strict guarantees of 
respectability and decorum. Such regulations formed no 
part of the Code Civil, but emanated from the War Office, 
and although they are now rescinded, an officer must still 
obtain the sanction of the Minister before contracting 
matrimony. The army as a profession being held in high 
esteem, officers of rank can always make brilliant marriages, 
but as a rule they only know one ambition, that the noblest 
of all, namely, how best to serve their country. They may 
not feel particularly enthusiastic about the powers that be. 
Drastically critical they are necessarily, being Frenchmen. 
No matter individual predilections or antipathies, the 
honour of France is ever before their eyes ; patriotism, in 
the august sense of the word, with them is a veritable 

In the new volume of his monumental work, "La 
France contemporaine," M. Hanotaux strikingly brings 
out this characteristic. Marshal MacMahon was a Legiti- 
mist at heart, democratic institutions were uncongenial, 
perhaps even hateful to him, but when President of the 
French Republic, he was begged by the Comte de Cham- 
bord to visit him secretly, the soi-disant Roi being then 
in hiding at Versailles, his reply was an unhesitating " My 
life is at the Comte de Chambord's service, but not my 

But indeed for the fine old soldier's attitude upon that 
occasion, events might have turned out very differently, 
and France would have been again plunged in the horrors 
of civil war. As M. Hanotaux remarked, the country 
hitherto has little known what she owes him. 


Bluff, simple-minded, monosyllabic commanders after 
the marshal's pattern, rough, unscrupulous, swashbucklers 
of Pellissier's type belonged to their epoch. The French 
officer of to-day is pre-eminently intellectual, to be best 
characterized by that word. 

If a brilliant young captain works harder than any other 
professional man anxious to rise to the top, the same may 
be averred of those in exalted positions. Many superior 
officers never dream of taking, or rather demanding, a 
holiday, and with the constantly widening area of military 
science more arduous become their duties and more 
absorbing their pursuits. 

The strain on physique equals that on brains. An 
artillery captain is as much tied to daily routine as his 
comrade in the bureau. 

I well remember a month spent at Clermont-Ferrand. 
I had gone thither to be near a friend, the accomplished 
young wife of an artillery captain. During my stay the 
heat was tropical in Auvergne ; but, all the same, regiments 
were drafted off for artillery practice on the plain below the 
Puy-de-D6me in the hottest part of the day. Only those 
men who have been hardened by an African sun can stand 
such an ordeal with impunity. The French soldier laughs, 
sings, and makes merry ; but often a hard lot is his ! One 
day my hostess and myself were driven with other ladies 
to witness the firing, resting under the shadow of a rock. 
When it was all over, my friend's husband galloped up, 
hot, tired, and dusty, but gay, neat, and composed. He 
conducted us to the temporary quarters erected for himself 
and his brother-officers ; and, whilst we sipped sirop water, 
he restored his spent forces by two large glasses of vermuth, 
taken neat. This powerful restorative had the desired 
effect. He declared himself none the worse for his many 
hours' exposure to the blazing sun. A sojourn in Senegal 
had rendered him sunproof, he added. 

I have said that officers in command get little in the 


way of holiday. One kind of change, often a very un- 
desirable one, is entailed upon them by their profession. 
French officers are hardly more of a fixture in times of 
peace than of war. Agreeably settled in some pleasant 
town and mild climate one year, a captain or commandant 
may be shifted to a frigid zone the next, the transport of 
wife and children, goods and chattels being the least in- 
convenience. A brilliant officer I knew well thus fell a 
victim to patriotic duty as completely as any hero killed 
on the battlefield. Removed from a station of south-west 
France to the arctic region of Upper Savoy, there amid 
perpetual snows to supervise military works, he contracted 
acute sciatica. He might, of course, have begged for an 
exchange on the plea of impaired health ; but no ! Ilfatit 
vaincre ou mourir, "conquer or die," is the motto of such 
men. Winter after winter he kept his post, struggling 
against disease ; finally, obliged to retire upon half-pay, he 
dragged out a painful year or two, dying in the prime of 
life. Such instances are numerous, true heroism therein 
shining more conspicuously than in the chronicles of so- 
called glorious campaigns. 

Hard-worked as he is, the French officer always finds 
time to serve his friends. No matter his circumstances, he 
is lavishly hospitable. With what grace and cordiality will 
he do the honours of a station however remote ! How 
charmingly will drawbacks be got over! I recollect an 
incident illustrating the latter remark. Many years ago 
I was travelling with four friends in Algeria. When we 
arrived at Teniet-el-Haad, a captain to whom we had a 
letter of introduction carried us off to a hastily improvised 
dinner, his young wife gracefully doing the honours, and 
several fellow-officers and their ladies being invited to 
meet us. We were seated at table, and the Kabyle 
servant had just entered with the soup, when, by an 
unlucky jerk, he tipped it over, every one jumping up to 
avoid the steaming hot cascade. "Ilfaut se passer de notre 


potage alors" " We must do without our soup, then," was 
all our host said, smiling as he spoke ; and with equal 
coolness and good-nature Hamet took his discomfiture. 

Many other illustrations I could cite in point did space 
permit. " Where there's a will there's a way," is a motto 
an officer holds to, taking no account of trouble, fatigue, or 
expense, in his person royally representing the noble French 
army, doing the honours of France. 

Geniality, serviceableness, simplicity, an immense 
capacity for enjoyment, that is to say, reciprocated enjoy- 
ment, these are among the lighter graces of national 
temperament. We must go deeper if we would appraise 
a body of men less generally known in England than 
perhaps any other of their country people. French states- 
men, scientists, representatives of art, industry, and com- 
merce now happily find themselves at home among us. Is 
it too much to hope that at no distant period the entente 
cordiale may bring French soldiers into intimate contact 
with their English comrades-in-arms ? 



TWO country doctors of France, I doubt not, are 
familiar to most folks. Who has not read Balzac's 
moving apotheosis of a humble practitioner, the 
story of the good Monsieur Benassis, " our father," as the 
villagers called him ? 

And who has not read Flaubert's roman\ n&essaire, 
the necessary novel some critic has misnamed it, a picture 
of life equalling in ugliness the beauty of the other? 
Charles Bovary, the heavy, plodding, matter-of-fact country 
doctor, interests us from a single point of view ; the mis- 
fortunes brought upon him by his union with a middle- 
class Messalina. Balzac's hero is perhaps a rare type in 
any country ; Charbovari, so in youth Flaubert's doctor 
called himself, must be set down as an uncommon specimen 
in France. Frenchmen, like ourselves, may dazzle us with 
their shining qualities, or put humanity to the blush by 
their vices ; stupidity is not a Gallic foible. 

Another thing we may also take for granted : whether 
a Benassis or a Charbovari, no man works harder than the 
French provincial doctor. When Balzac put the colophon 
to "Le Medecin de Campagne" in 1833, and, twenty- 
seven years later, Flaubert brought out " Madame Bovary," 
country doctors in France were few and far between. The 
rural practitioner was most often the nun. Even where 
qualified medical skill was available, the peasants preferred 
to go to the bonnes soeurs. I well remember, when staying 



with friends in Anjou many years ago, a visit we paid to 
a village convent. One of the sisters, a rough and ready 
but capable-looking woman, began speaking of her medical 
rounds. " Good heavens, how busy I am ! " she said. 
"Just now every soul in the place wants putting to 
rights." * And she evidently put them to rights with a 
vengeance. There were drugs enough in her little parlour 
to stock an apothecary's shop ; and as many of the nuns 
are excellent herbalists, for ordinary ailments I have no 
doubt they prove efficient. 

If at any time you visit village folks, the first thing 
they do is to introduce you to the bonnes sceurs. When 
staying at the charming little village of Nant in the 
Aveyron, the mistress of our comfortable inn immediately 
carried me off on a visit of ceremony to the convent. The 
mother-superior was evidently a medical authority in the 
place, and in order to supply her pharmacopoeia, had yearly 
collections made of all the medicinal plants growing round 
about. Here on the floor of a chamber exposed to sun 
and air were stores of wild lavender for sweetening the 
linen-presses, mallows, gentian, elder-flowers, poppies, leaves 
of the red vine and limes, with vast heaps of the Veronica 
officinalis, or tht des Alpes, as it is called in France, and 
many others. That excellent little work, Dr. Saffray's 
" Remedes des Champs," had apparently been got by heart. 

But it was not only the peasants who resorted, and 
still resort, to the convent instead of the surgery, as the 
following story will show. A few years ago I was visiting 
rich vignerons in Burgundy, when their cook was severely 
bitten by a sporting dog. Several of these dogs were 
allowed to run loose in a yard adjoining the kitchen ; and 
one day, thinking that they wanted no more of the food 
set down for them, poor old Justine imprudently lifted a 
half-emptied bowl. In a second the animal in question, 

* Her words were these : " Mon Dieu, que je suis affairee ! Dans ce 
moment-ci tout le monde a besoin d'etre purge." 


a very handsome and powerful creature, had pinned her to 
the ground. The housemaid, hearing her fellow-servant's 
cries, rushed out with a broomstick and beat off the 
assailant, not before he had fearfully lacerated the woman's 
arm. Was a doctor sent for ? Not a bit of it. The nuns 
took my old friend Justine in hand, and, being sound in 
body and mind, she was soon at work again, no whit worse 
for the misadventure. It did seem to me astonishing that 
the matter should not have been taken more seriously, all 
the more so as M. Pasteur's name just then was in every- 
body's mouth. What I quite expected was that Justine, 
under the care of a nun, would have been despatched to 
Paris, there to undergo Pasteurian treatment. Very likely 
she fared better at home. And as things fell out in Gold- 
smith's poem, "the dog it was that died." Poor Figaro 
showed no signs of madness ; but it was deemed unwise 
to keep so fierce-tempered a creature about the place, and 
he was shot. 

When more than a quarter of a century ago I spent 
a year in Brittany and Anjou, I constantly heard it asserted 
that the nuns starved out the country doctors. Where 
the choice lay between nun and doctor, the peasants, alike 
the well-to-do and the needy, would prefer to go to the 
former, as often the handier and always the cheaper. 
Provided with a bishop's lettre d' obedience, the bonnes sceurs 
were much in the position of our own bone-setters, barber- 
surgeons, and unqualified medical assistants long since 
prohibited by law. Legislation in France and progressive 
ideas have now changed all this, and made the profession 
of country doctor fairly remunerative. But not till July, 
1893, was a law passed assuring gratuitous medical services 
to the indigent poor, the doctors being paid respectively 
by the State, the department, and the communes. The 
term " indigent poor " must be understood as an equivalent 
to our own poor in receipt of poor-relief. Medicines are 
not supplied gratuitously. 


Oddly enough, doctors' fees in provincial France are no 
higher than they were thirty years ago. So far back as 
1875, whilst passing through Brest, the maritime capital of 
Brittany, I needed treatment for passing indisposition. 
To my amazement, the doctor's fee was two francs only. 
On my mentioning the matter to the French friend who 
was with me, she replied that two francs a visit was the 
usual charge in provincial towns and in the country. And 
quite enough, too, she said. And a year or two ago I was 
taken ill at a little town of Champagne. Here, as at Brest, 
the usual medical fee was two francs a visit, not a centime 
higher than it had been more than a quarter of a century 
before. Yet the price of living has greatly risen through- 
out France since the Franco-Prussian war. How, then, do 
country doctors contrive to make ends meet ? " Oh," re- 
torted my hostess, " we have three doctors here ; they have 
as much as they can do, and are all rich." 

There are two explanations of this speech. In the first 
place, the town contains three thousand inhabitants, thus 
allotting a thousand to each practitioner ; * in the second 
place, the word " rich " is susceptible of divers interpretations. 
The French lady, who always travelled first-class because 
she was rich, was rich because most likely she never spent 
more than a hundred and fifty of two hundred ; and the 
same explanation, I dare say, applies to the three medical 
men in this little country town. They were rich, in all pro- 
bability, on three or four hundred a year rich just because 
they made double that they spent. 

In order to comprehend French life and character we 
must bear one fact in mind. Appearance is not a fetich 
in France as in England ; outside show is not sacrificed 
to; Mrs. Grundy is no twentieth-century Baal. On the 
other hand, good repute is sedulously nursed ; personal 

* In M. de Foville's "La France Economic" (1900), he gives 11,643 
as the number of medical men in France, the population being over thirty- 
eight millions. 



dignity and family honour are hedged round with respect. 
We must not take the so-called realistic novelist's standard 
to be the true one. Frenchmen, I should say, as a rule 
spend a third less upon dress than Englishmen. It does 
not follow that the individual is held in slight esteem, 
personality thereby discounted. These provincial and 
country doctors do not outwardly resemble their spick- 
and-span English colleagues, nor do they affect what is 
called style in their equipages in most cases the con- 
veyance is a bicycle and manner of living. How can 
they do so upon an income derived from one-and-eight- 
penny fees ? But many are doubtless rich in the logical 
acceptation of the word that is, they live considerably 
below their income, and save money. Unostentatious as 
is their manner of living, the status of country doctor is 
greatly changed since Flaubert wrote his roman n&essaire. 

There is one highly suggestive scene in "Madame 
Bovary." Husband and wife have arrived at the marquis's 
chateau for the ball, and whilst the ambitious Emma puts 
on her barege dress, Charles remarks that the straps of 
his trousers will be in the way whilst dancing. " Dancing ? " 
exclaims Emma. "Yes." "You must be crazy," retorts 
the little bourgeoise ; "everybody will make fun of you. 
Keep your place. Besides," she added, "it is more be- 
coming in a doctor not to dance." 

Now, in the first place, you would not nowadays find 
among the eleven thousand and odd medical men in France 
a lourdaud, or heavy, loutish fellow after the pattern of 
poor Charles Bovary. Higher attainments, increased 
facilities of social intercourse, and progress generally in 
France as elsewhere have rendered certain types obsolete. 
In the second place, every Frenchman at the present time 
can dance well, and I should have said it was so when 
Flaubert wrote. And, thirdly, a country doctor and his 
wife would not in these days lose their heads at being 
invited to a marquis's chateau. Thirty-five years of 


democratic institutions have lent the social colouring of 
this novel historic interest. 

There is one whimsical trait in the French country 
doctor. He does not relish being paid for his services. 
The difficulty in dealing with him is the matter of re- 
muneration, by what roundabout contrivance to transfer 
his two-franc fees from your pocket to his own. It is my 
firm belief that French doctors, if it were practicable, would 
infinitely prefer to attend rich patients as they do the 
poor, for nothing. Take the case of my last-mentioned 
medical attendant, for instance. On arriving at the little 
Champenois town I unfortunately fell ill, and Dr. B. was 
in close attendance upon me for many days. "Ne vous 
tourmentez pas " (" Do not be uneasy "), Dr. B. reiterated 
when, as my departure drew near, I ventured to ask for 
his bill. A second attempt to settle the little matter only 
evoked the same, " Ne vous tourmentez pas ; " and when 
the morning for setting out came, it really seemed as if 
I must leave my debt behind me. At the last moment, 
however, just as I was about to start for the station, up 
came the doctor's maid-of-all-work, or rather working- 
housekeeper, breathless and flustered, with the anxiously 
expected account. On my hostess handing her the sum, 
just a pound, the good woman turned it over in her palm, 
exclaiming, " My ! How these doctors make money, to 
be sure ! " Upon another occasion the same reluctance 
was even more divertingly manifested. I was staying with 
French friends in Germanized France, and had called in 
a young French doctor. My hostesses begged me on no 
account whatever to proffer money ; he would be much 
hurt by such a proceeding, they said. So before I left one 
of the ladies wrote a note at my request, enclosing the 
customary fee, and making a quite apologetic demand for 
his acceptance of the same. 

Half a dozen provincial doctors I have known in France, 
and if not guardian angels of humanity, veritable apostles 


of the healing art like Balzac's hero, one and all might 
serve as worthy types. Small is the number lifted by 
chance or ambition into more exalted spheres, laborious 
the round of duty, modest the guerdon. Yet no class 
does more honour to France. The country doctor, more- 
over, forms a link between peasant and bourgeois, an 
intermediary bridging over social distinctions, linking two 
classes not always sympathetic. A distinctive feature of 
French rural life, it is a pity that the mtdecin de campagne 
is so persistently ignored by contemporary novelists over 
the water. 



IT is curious how insignificant a part the parish priest 
plays in French fiction. One novel ofttimes proves 
the germ of another, and Balzac's little masterpiece, 
" Le Cure de Tours," as we now know, suggested what is 
not only the masterpiece of another writer, but the only 
great French romance having a priest for hero. " L'Abbe 
Tigrane," by the late Ferdinand Fabre, belongs to a series 
of powerful ecclesiastical studies which stand absolutely 
alone. All readers who wish to realize clerical life in 
France from the topmost rung to the bottom of the ladder 
must acquaint themselves with this not too numerous 

Such general neglect is all the more difficult to under- 
stand, since the priest constitutes an integral portion of 
family life in France ; the confessor is indeed in some sort 
a member of the household. Be his part exalted or lowly, 
whether he occupies a lofty position alike in the Church 
and in the world, or in a remote village is counted rich on 
forty pounds a year, the relation between priest and 
parishioner is the same, one of constant intercourse and 
closest intimacy, with, of course, exceptions. Here 
and there are Socialist and anti-clerical circles from which 
any representative of sacerdotalism is excluded. These, 
however, are uncommon cases. 

On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that there 


is no analogy whatever between the status of a French 
curd and a clergyman of the Church of England. 

Strictly speaking, there is no State Church in France. 
It was during the reign of Louis Philippe that the words 
religion de Etat were struck out of the charter by the 
Chamber of Deputies, la religion de la majority des Fran- 
fais being placed in their stead. The French Government 
acknowledges and subsidizes in equal proportion four 
religions namely, the Roman Catholic, the Protestant, 
the Jewish, and in Algeria the Mohammedan ; though it 
must be remembered that there are about thirty Catholics 
to one Protestant, and there are only about fifty synagogues 
in all France. The Protestant pastor, indeed, receives 
higher pay than the Catholic priest ; being the father of a 
family, he is understood to want a better income. When- 
ever a Protestant temple, Jewish synagogue, or in Algeria 
a new mosque is built, the State makes a grant precisely 
as in the case of a Catholic church. 

No peasant-born, illiterate, boorish wearer of the soutane 
was my friend Monsieur le cur6. Formerly professor at a 
seminary, learned, genial, versed in the usages of society, 
how came such a man to be planted in an out-of-the-way 
commune of eastern France, numbering a few hundred 
souls only, and these, with the exception of the Juge de 
Paix, all belonging to the peasant class ? 

The mystery was afterwards cleared up. The highly 
cultivated and influential residents of the chateau situated 
at some distance from the village were on good terms 
with the bishop of the diocese. As it was their custom 
to spend five months of the year in the country, they 
depended somewhat upon the cure for society, and Mon- 
seigneur had obligingly made an exchange. A somewhat 
heavy, uneducated priest was sent elsewhere, and hither 
came Monsieur le cure in his place. Agreeable intercourse, 
unlimited hospitality, and sympathetic parochial co-opera- 
tion during five months of the year doubtless went far to 



compensate for isolation during the remaining seven. Yet, 
taking these advantages into consideration, how modest 
such a sphere of action, how apparently inadequate its 
remuneration ! 

M. le curb's yearly stipend was just sixty pounds, in 
addition to which he received a good house, garden, and 
paddock, about half an acre in all, and the usual eccle- 
siastical fees, called le casuel, the latter perhaps bringing 
his receipts to a hundred pounds a year. As the patrimony 
of both rich and poor is rigidly divided amongst sons and 
daughters in France, it may be that this village priest 
enjoyed a small private income. In any case, only devotion 
to his calling could render the position enviable. 

When I made his acquaintance, M. le cur was in the 
prime of life, too florid, too portly perhaps, for health, but 
possessing a striking and benignant presence. Extremely 
fastidious as he was in personal matters, his soutane was 
ever well brushed, his muslin lappets spotless, the silver 
buckles of his shoes highly polished. Nor less was he 
careful in clothing his thoughts, always expressing himself 
choicely and with perfect intonation. During my repeated 
visits to the hospitable chateau I renewed an acquaintance 
which finally ripened into friendship. At the dinner-table 
the conversation would, of course, be general ; but when- 
ever he called in the afternoon we invariably had a long 
theological discussion, never losing temper on either side, 
and, I need hardly say, never changing each other's way 
of looking at things by so much as a hair-breadth. Upon 
other occasions everyday topics would come up, M. le cure 
showing the liveliest interest in matters lying wholly out- 
side his especial field of thought and action. 

It will happen that such cosmopolitan tastes are some- 
times hampered even in these days by episcopal authority. 
A village priest has not much money to spare upon books 
or newspapers, and the chdtelaine used to send frequent 
supplies of these to the presbytery. One evening, as he 


was leaving after dinner, she gave him a bundle of the 
Figaro, a newspaper without which no reading French- 
man or Frenchwoman can support existence, and which 
costs twopence daily. As he tied up the parcel he turned 
to his hostess, saying with a smile 

" I shall take great care, madame, not to let my bishop 
catch sight of these numbers of the Figaro" 

It seemed odd that a middle-aged priest could not 
choose his own newspaper ; but was not the immortal Mrs. 
Proudie capable of rating a curate for a less offence than 
smuggling a forbidden journal ? 

With the benevolent intention of bettering his circum- 
stances, the chdtelaine advised her friend to take an English 
pupil or two. In order that I might be able to furnish 
any information required of an outsider, M. le cure showed 
me over his house. A well-built, commodious house it 
was, and the large fruit and vegetable garden bespoke 
excellent husbandry. 

" You occasionally amuse yourself here, I suppose, M. 
le cur6 ? " I asked, knowing that many parish priests are 
very good gardeners. 

"No, indeed," was the reply. "My servant keeps it 
in order. Ah ! she is a good girl " (une bonne fille}. 

This good girl was a stout, homely spinster between 
fifty and sixty ; but, no matter her age, a spinster is 
always une fille in the French language. Cook, laundry- 
maid, seamstress, housekeeper, gardener, M. le curb's 
bonne fille must have well earned her wages, whatever they 
might be. 

My friend had enjoyed unusual opportunities of travel 
for a village priest. He had visited, perhaps in an official 
capacity, Ober-Ammergau, witnessing the Passion Play, 
with which he was delighted ; Lourdes, in the miracles of 
which he firmly believed ; and, lastly, Rome. 

The most charitably disposed man in the world, M. le 
cur dilated with positive acerbity on the slovenliness and 


uncared-for appearance of his Italian brethren. " I assure 
you," he said to me, " I have seen a priest's soutane so 
greasy that boiled down it would have made a thick 

But is not the French cure rich by comparison with 
an Italian pretre, and might not such well-worn robes be 
thought a matter of necessity rather than inclination ? 

M. le curb's thoughts were now bent upon London. 
There was only one point on which he had misgivings. 
Could he without inconvenience retain his priestly garb ? 
French priests never quit the soutane, and on the settle- 
ment of this doubt depended his decision. 

" Nothing would induce me to don civilian dress," he 
said " nothing in the world." 

I assured him that, although in England ecclesiastical 
habiliments had long gone out of fashion, English folks 
were peaceful, and he was not likely to be molested on 
that account. To London a little later accordingly he 
went. Indefatigably piloted by English friends, he con- 
trived during his three days' stay to see what generally 
goes by the name of everything the Tower, St. Paul's, 
the Abbey, the museums, parks, and civic monuments, wind- 
ing up with an evening at the House of Commons. And 
the wearing of the soutane occasioned no inconvenience. 

I must here explain that by virtue of his age M. le 
cure" had escaped military service, now in France, as in 
Germany, an obligation alike of seminarists, students pre- 
paring for the Protestant ordination, or the Jewish priest- 
hood. In case of war French seminarists would be em- 
ployed in the ambulance, hospital, and commissariat 
departments, and not obliged to use arms. 

That journey was M. le curb's last holiday. A few 
months later I was grieved, although not greatly surprised, 
to hear of his death from apoplexy. He had never looked 
like a man in good health, and one part of his duty had 
ever tried him greatly. 


We used after mass to say " How d'ye do ? " to him 
in the sacristy, and upon one occasion I observed his look 
of fatigue, even prostration. 

" It is not the long standing and use of the voice that 
I feel, but protracted long fasts," he replied, with a sigh. 

With many other parish priests I have made passing 
acquaintance, most of these being peasant-born and having 
little interest in the outer world. Whenever any kind of 
entertainment is given by country residents, or any unusual 
delicacy is about to be served, the cur is invited to partake. 
The nal'vet6 of these worthy men is often diverting enough. 
When I was staying in a country house near Dijon some 
years since, my hostess had prepared a local rarity in the 
shape of a game pdtt, or open pie, a vast dish lined with 
pastry and filled with every variety of game in season 
partridge, quail, pheasant, hare, venison, and, I believe, 
even slices of wild boar. This savoury mess naturally 
called for the exercise of hospitality. The cure and his 
nephew were invited, and after dinner I had a little chat 
with the uncle. 

"Who will succeed the Queen on the throne of 
England ? " he asked. 

I should have thought that not a man or woman in 
France, however unlettered, would have been ignorant of 
the Prince of Wales's existence and his position. 

Many village priests, as I have mentioned, are excellent 
gardeners. One afternoon some French friends in the 
Seine-et-Marne, wanting some dessert and preserving fruit, 
took me with them to the presbytery of a neighbouring 
village. Very inviting looked the place with its vine- 
covered walls and wealth of flowers. The cure", who told 
us that he had been at work in his garden from four to six 
o'clock in the morning, received us in quite a business-like 
way, yet very courteously, and at once conducted us to his 
fruit and vegetable gardens at some little distance from 
the house. There we found the greatest profusion and 


evidence of labour and unremitting skill. The fruit-trees 
were laden ; Alpine strawberries, currants, melons, apricots, 
were in abundance ; of vegetables, also, there was a splendid 
show. Nor were flowers wanting for the bees for M. le 
cure was also a bee-keeper double sunflowers, mallows, 
gladioli ; a score of hives completing the picture, which 
the owner contemplated with pardonable pride. 

"You have only just given your orders in time, ladies," 
he said. " All my greengages are to be gathered at once 
for the London market. Ah, those English ! those 
English ! they take the best of everything." 

Whereupon I ventured upon the rejoinder that if we 
robbed our neighbours of their best produce, at least our 
money found its way into their pockets. I need hardly 
say that, whether lettered or unlettered, the parish priest 
in France is generally anti-Republican and out of sympathy 
with existing institutions. Most friendly I have ever found 
him, and from one good cure near Nancy I have a stand- 
ing invitation to make his presbythe my pied a terre when 
next that way. 



UNDER the roof of more than one French parson- 
age during the summer holidays I have found, as 
Bunyan wrote, "harbour and good company." 
On one sojourn of this kind do I look back with especial 
pleasure, that of September days in a Pyrenean hamlet. 
So near lies this little Protestant centre to the Spanish 
frontier that a bridle-path leads over the mountains into 
Aragon, the ride occupying three or four hours. I had 
journeyed with a friend from Pau, quitting the railway at 
Oloron (Basses Pyrenees), to enjoy a sixteen-mile drive, one 
of the loveliest of the countless lovely drives I have taken 
in France. 

As we climbed the mountain road leading to our destina- 
tion in the beautiful Vall6e dAspe every turn revealed new 
features, a garve, or mountain stream, after the manner of 
Pyrenean streams, making noisy cascades, waterfalls, and 
little whirlpools by the way. On either side of the broaden- 
ing velvety green valley, with its foamy, turbulent river, 
rose an array of stately peaks, here and there a glittering 
white thread breaking the dark surface of the rock, some 
mountain torrent falling from a height of many hundred or 
even thousand feet. After winding slowly upwards for three 
hours, the mountains closed round us abruptly, shutting in 
a wide verdant valley with white-walled, grey-roofed hamlets 
scattered here and there, all singularly alike. Half an hour 



more on the level, and we found ourselves not only in a 
pleasant, cheerful house, but at home, as if we had suddenly 
dropped upon old friends. 

The parsonage-house, of somewhat greater pretensions 
than its neighbours, with church and school house, might 
almost be said to form one building, each of the three 
structures communicating with the other. On one side of 
the dwelling lay a little garden, or rather orchard, with seats 
under the trees. Three-storeyed, airy, roomy, the house 
suggested that palladium of the Reformed Church, family 
life, and at the same time attested the impartiality of the 
French State. As I have elsewhere particularized, there is 
no State or privileged church in France. Alike Protestant 
pastor, Jewish Rabbi, and in Algeria, Mohammedan Imam, 
receive stipends and accommodation, as well as the Catholic 

When, after tea and a rest in our comfortable bedrooms, 
we joined the family board at dinner, we found a goodly 
assemblage, upwards of a dozen covers being laid. The 
presence of two other boarders accounted for the ample 
fare, excellent service, and an air of pervading comfort. 
But, as I have just said, we at once felt at home. Pro- 
testantism has ever been a kind of freemasonry, an anti- 
cipatory entente cordiale between French and English. 
Anglo-French marriages are chiefly, I am tempted to say, 
exclusively, found among Protestant circles in France. Of 
eight pastors I have known, four were wedded to English 

Partly owing to other circumstance, a parsonage, unlike 
the majority of French homes, is not hedged round by a 
Chinese wall. When young people from England or 
Scandinavia want to perfect themselves in French and see 
something of French family life, the only doors open to 
them are those of the presbytire. 

Judicial as is the French Government in dealing with 
ministers of religion, a pastor's pay cannot support a family. 


The pupil, the boarder, swell the domestic budget, cover 
servants' wages, and defray educational expenses. 

Here the domestic atmosphere was one of well-being. 
A very genial and animated party we were, the family 
group numbering four boys and a girl, with the host's 
brother, like himself a minister. In addition to these were 
two young men pursuing their studies during the long 
vacation. One was a French law-student, the other a 
Spanish ex-seminarist, who had renounced Rome and was 
preparing for Protestant ministry. 

In the forenoon Monsieur C would be busy with 

his pupils, madame and her sixteen-year-old daughter, 
wearing little mob-caps and aprons, would occupy them- 
selves in household matters, their visitors could read or 
write abroad, having ever before them a grandiose pano- 
rama, on either side "the everlasting hills," ramparts of 
brilliant green, their slopes dotted with herdsmen's ch&let 
and shepherd's hut. The mention of these recalls to 
memory a moving and highly suggestive incident. 

One day, on taking my place at the breakfast or rather 
luncheon table, I missed our host and his eldest son, a lad 
of fifteen. 

Madame C , when we found ourselves alone, took 

the opportunity of explaining this absence. " My husband, 
with Ernest, set off at five o'clock this morning for the 
mountain yonder," she said, pointing to the highest points 
of the range over against us. " The lad has an ardent 
desire to enter the ministry, and wanted some quiet talk 
with his father on the subject. My husband, for his part, 
as you can well conceive, was anxious to assure himself 
that the desire is no passing fancy, but a really devout 
aspiration. So the pair are going to have two days' com- 
munion together, sharing at night the hospitality of a friendly 
herdsman. I expect them back to-morrow evening." 

It seemed to me a beautiful incident, this setting out of 
father and son for the mountain, on that awful height, 


amid those vast solitudes, as it were under the very eye of 
Heaven, taking counsel together, coming to the most 
momentous decision of a young life. If I remember rightly, 
the pastorate was decided upon. Another incident, this 
time of an amusing kind, I must mention. 

In this pastoral region, sixteen miles from a railway, 
we certainly expected to find no country-people except 
under the pastor's roof. But the ubiquitous British, where 
are they not ? 

Here at the other end of the village, a retired Anglo- 
Indian with his wife and family had settled down, as the 
way of English folks is, surrounding themselves with as 
many comforts as could be got, bringing, indeed, an atmo- 
sphere of home. The one bourgeois dwelling of the place 
wore quite a familiar aspect when in the evening we all 
trooped thither, tea, chat, and table games being shared by 
young and old. It is amazing how the English teapot 
brings out the genial side, the human side of us all ! 

My host was especially happy in his church and in his 
people ; mes enfants he affectionately called these good 
dalesfolk, all with few exceptions forming his congregation. 
For the first time, indeed, I found my co-religionists in a 
majority, but the Valise d Aspe formed part of the ancient 
B6arn, and during centuries the Reformed faith has been 
stoutly upheld in these fastnesses. A tablet in the neat little 
church of Osse recalls how the original place of Protestant 
worship was levelled to the ground by royal edict in 1685, 
and only rebuilt in 1800-5. With a refinement of cruelty, 
it was the Protestants themselves who, on the Revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes, were compelled to demolish their 
beloved temple. Deprived of church, pastor, and Bibles, 
constrained to bury their dead in field or garden, the Aspois 
yet clung tenaciously to the faith of their fathers. One 
concession, and one only, they made. Peasant property 
from time immemorial has existed in the Pyrenees, and in 
order to legitimize their children and enjoy testamentary 


privileges, the Protestants of the Vallee d'Aspe submitted 
to marriages according to Romish rites. Old family Bibles 
are very rarely to be found among the descendants of these 
ancient Huguenot families. The explanation is simple. 
No matter the precautions taken to hide such heirlooms 
and prime sources of consolation, sooner or later inkling 
was got of them by the marfahausste, or royal police, and 
the sacred books were ruthlessly burnt. 

Here I will mention that, although the Catholic and 
Protestant population live harmoniously side by side, inter- 
marriages are rare, and the rival churches neither gain nor 
lose adherents to any appreciable extent. Between Pro- 
testant pastor and Catholic priest in any part of France 
there is no kind of intercourse whatever. They stand aloof 
from one another as French and Germans in the annexed 

On Sunday mornings the little church would be full, the 
men dressed in black, cloth trousers, alpaca blouses, and 
neckties, set off by spotless shirt-fronts, the older women 
wearing the black hood and long black coat of the traditional 
Huguenot matron, the younger of the children dark stuff 
gowns and coloured kerchiefs tied under the chin. The 
service was of the simplest, my host's young daughter pre- 
siding at the harmonium, her mother leading the choir of 
school children, and all the congregation, as in English 
churches, joining in the hymns. The communion service 
was especially touching in its simplicity and the subdued 
fervour of the partakers. All stood in a semicircle before 
the table, the pastor, as he handed symbolic draught and 
bread to each, uttering some scriptural phrase appropriate 
to recipient and occasion. 

One's thoughts went back to the ancestors of these sturdy 
mountaineers, their pastors condemned to death or the 
galleys, their assemblage for purposes of worship liable 
to similar punishments, their very Bibles burnt by the 
common hangman. Like the Pilgrim Fathers, the French 


Huguenots have been tried in the fire, and rarely found 

Sunday was observed as a day of unbroken repose. My 
host would, in the afternoon, take me for a round of calls ; 
and highly instructive were these chats with peasant farmers, 
some possessing an acre or two only, and living in frugalest 
fashion, others owning well-stocked farms of twenty or 
thirty acres, and commodious well-furnished houses. In 
one, indeed, we found a piano, pictures, and a Japanese 
cabinet ! The region is entirely pastoral, hardly a bour- 
geois element entering into this community of six hundred 
souls. The village street consists of farmhouses, and where 
shops are needed folks betake themselves to Bedous, on the 
other side of the gave. Shopping, however, is here reduced 
to the minimum. The women still spin linen from home- 
grown flax, wheat and maize are grown for household use, 
pigs and poultry reared for domestic consumption, and milk 
is the chief drink of old and young. Doubtless, although 
this point I did not inquire into, every matron had her 
provision of home-made simples, a family medicine chest, 
conferring independence of the pharmacy. 

With no little regret my friend and myself turned our 
backs upon this mountain-hemmed parsonage. Life is 
short, and the French map is enormous. Having set myself 
the task of traversing France from end to end, I could not 
hope to revisit scenes so full of natural beauty and pleasur- 
able association. A drive of sixteen miles to and from a 
railway station is a serious obstacle to those who do not 
appreciate the motor-car. I felt that the Valle"e d'Aspe, 
alas ! must remain a memory, a charming but closed chapter 
of French experiences. 

It must not be inferred that every pastor's lot is cast in 
such pleasant places. From a pecuniary and social point 
of view, many pastorates may appear more desirable ; but 
how delightful the peace of this Pyrenean retreat, how 
grateful the sense of reciprocated amity and esteem ! To 


some the isolation would prove irksome, especially during 
the winter season. The climate, however, is comparatively 
mild, and whilst the mountains are tipped with snow, the 
valley is very rarely so whitened. 

In other French parsonages have I spent many weeks. 
One of these represented the humbler, a second the more 
cosmopolitan, type. Perhaps the stipend of the first 
incumbent reached two thousand francs, just 80 a year, 
in addition to good house and large garden. My hosts 
had two children, and at that time no private means. 
As, moreover, they lived in a remote country town, and 
were without English connections, boarders could not be 
counted upon. So the narrow resources were eked out with 
rigid economy. A servant was, of course, wholly out of the 
question. The pastor taught his boy and girl, and his wife, 
with occasional help from outside, did the housework. The 
daily fare was soup, followed by the meat and vegetables 
from which it had been made, a cutlet or some other extra 
being put before the visitor. 

Madame, although neatness itself, never wore a gown 
except on Sundays, or when paying a visit, her usual cos- 
tume being a well-worn but quite clean and tidy morning 
wrap. The solitary black silk dress had to be most care- 
fully used, so little prospect seemed there of ever replacing 
it By the strangest caprice of fortune, some years after 
my visit this lady's husband inherited a handsome fortune. 
Rare, indeed, are such windfalls in the French parsonage, 
perhaps rarer still the sequel of this story. 

For when I lately asked of a common friend what had 
become of the pastor and his heritage, she replied 

"He stays where he was, and does nothing but good 
with his money." 

My host of former days had neither quitted the little 
parsonage of that country town nor relinquished his 

There, amid old friends and associations, he will most 


likely end his days. We see in his case the result of early 
bringing up, the influence of Huguenot ancestry. 

In large cities possessing a numerous Protestant com- 
munity the stipend is higher, and the parsonage is replaced 
by a commodious flat. The attractions of society and 
resources of a town enable pastors to receive young men of 
good family, English or otherwise, who appreciably con- 
tribute to the family budget. Belonging to this category 
is the third pastoral roof under which I spent a pleasant 
summer holiday, and concerning which there is not much 
to say. Existence under such conditions becomes cosmo- 
politan. However agreeable may be our sojourn, it has no 
distinctive features. 

The Protestant pastor has not found favour with the 
French novelists. Few and far between are the stories in 
which the Protestant element is introduced at all. " Con- 
stance," by Th. Bentzon, is an exception ; " L'un vers 
1'autre," an engaging story by a new writer, is another. 
The late Alphonse Daudet brutally travestied Protes- 
tantism in " L'Evangeliste ;" and another writer of 
European reputation, M. Jules Lemaitre, stooped so low as 
to turn the Reformed faith into buffoonery for the stage. 
For the most part French writers seem to share Louis 
Blanc's opinion in France Protestantism has ceased to 

I add that the Reformed Church (Calvinistic) in 1893 
numbered 883 pastors, as against 90 of the Augsburg Con- 
fession (Lutheran), and that 800 French towns and com- 
munes possess Protestant churches, these figures being 
exclusive of English places of worship. The number of 
churches and schools is added to every year. All infor- 
mation on this subject is obtainable in the little " Protestant 
Agenda," an annual publication, price one shilling. 

SELF-DEPRECIATION is a French characteristic 
Our neighbours never tire of stultifying themselves 
as a nation of functionaries, a social body made up 
of small placemen. Some writers, in this predilection for 
administrative routine, even discern a canker-worm preying 
upon national vitality. They hold that officialism is eating 
away the germs of enterprise and independence. The 
manhood of France, assert such critics, is thereby losing 
qualities more than ever needed if their country is to 
maintain her position among nations. 

May not the bureaucratic system be justified by 
national character be, in fact, a natural evolution of 
temperament and aptitudes ? Just as an insular people is 
impelled to hazard and adventure, may not a continental 
nation be predisposed to repose and stability ? 

For my own part, I have long regarded the small 
French official from an admiring and sympathetic point 
of view. Bureaucracy seems to me a factor in the body 
politic no less admirable than that of peasant proprietor- 
ship itself. At the present time, too, how refreshing is the 
contemplation of these dignified, unpretentious, laborious 
lives ! Elsewhere we find frenzied speculation, inordinate 
craving after wealth, and lavish expenditure. Untouched 
by such sinister influences, the French civil servant " keeps 
the noiseless tenor of his way," a modest competence 
crowning his honourable and most useful career. 



To no class have I been more indebted in the course 
of my usual surveys than to the departmental professor 
of agriculture. Locus est et pluribus umbris, "plenty of 
room for uninvited guests," wrote the Roman poet to his 
friend; and the Third Republic, when creating these State 
professorships, was evidently of Horace's opinion. Multi- 
farious as were already Government bureaux, a few more 
might advantageously be added. Paradoxical as it may 
sound, the departmental professor was nominated in order 
to teach the peasant farming! But if, as Arthur Young 
wrote a hundred and odd years ago, you give a man secure 
possession of a black rock and he will turn it into a garden, 
peasant ownership is not always progressive. The depart- 
mental professor must coax small farmers out of their 
groove in fine, teach them that there are more things in 
heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy. 
Recruited from the State agricultural schools of Rennes, 
Grignau, Montpellier, and others, these gentlemen have 
gone through a complete practical and scientific training, 
and exercise a real influence in rural districts. Their 
gratuitous classes in winter evenings, no matter how 
apparently mystifying may be the subject treated, are 
always well attended by young and old. But it is the 
Sunday afternoon conference, or lecture held out-of-doors, 
that proves most attractive and illuminating to the hard- 
headed peasant. These lectures take the form of an object- 
lesson. New machinery and chemical manures, seeds, 
plants, and roots are exhibited, inquiries being invited 
and explanations given. 

Very characteristic is the behaviour of the middle- 
aged, often white-haired pupils gathered around the 
demonstrator's table. Most deliberative, most leisurely 
of national temperaments, the French mind works slowly. 

"It will often happen," says my friend Monsieur 

R , departmental professor in Western France, " that a 

peasant farmer will return again and again to a piece of 


machinery or sample of chemical manure before making 
up his mind to buy either. Like a bird suspecting a gin, 
he hovers round the tempting bait at a distance, at last 
venturing upon nearer inspection and a few inquiries, 
perhaps weeks later deciding upon the perilous leap ; in 
other words, to throw aside his antiquated drilling machine 
for Ransome's latest improvement, or to lay out a few 
francs upon approved seeds or roots." No more cautious, 
I should perhaps say suspicious, being inhabits the globe 
than Jacques Bonhomme. Not only does farming proper, 
that is to say, the cultivation of the soil and the breeding 
of stock, fall within the professor's province, but kindred 
subjects, the name of which in France is legion. Especially 
must his attention be given to the ofttimes multifarious 
products and industries of his own province, such as mule- 
rearing, cyder and liqueur making, the culture of medicinal 
herbs, silkworm breeding, vine-dressing, and the fabrication 
of wine. In matters agricultural he must indeed be ency- 
clopaedic, resembling Fadladeen, the great Vizier, "who 
was a judge of everything, from the pencilling of a Cir- 
cassian's eyelids to the deepest questions of science and 
literature, from a conserve of rose-leaves to an epic 

Like the immortal Mr. Turveydrop, also, he must per- 
petually show himself. And if not in the flesh, at least 
vicariously, he must survey mankind from China to Peru. 
Not only is his presence indispensable at local and 
municipal meetings of agricultural societies, at agricultural 
shows and congresses, at sittings of the Departmental 
Council General, at markets and fairs, but beyond the 
frontier, across the channel and the Gulf of Lyons, he 
wends his way. Now he visits the Shire horse show at 
Islington, now an agricultural congress in Rome, or an 
exposition vinicole (exhibition of wines) in Algeria. 

Again, the amount of writing that has to be got through 
by the departmental professor is enormous. Reports for 


the Minister of Agriculture are periodically drawn up, 
pamphlets and flying sheets for general distribution are 
expected of him, besides contributions to the local journals 
of agriculture. Whenever I receive a printed communica- 
tion from my friend M. R , I am moved to confraternal 

commiseration, my own aching fingers ache doubly out of 

The devastation wrought by the phylloxera, as we all 
know, cost France a sum equal to that of the Franco-Prussian 
war indemnity, namely, two hundred million sterling. In 
the midst of that panic-stricken period a prize of a million 
francs (^"40,000) was offered by the Government for the 
discovery of a remedy. No one obtained this splendid 
gratuity, but several professors of agriculture, amongst 

others M. R , have serviceably co-operated in the recon- 

stitution of vineyards by American stocks, and other works 
of amelioration. 

The Third Republic has ennobled agriculture as well 
as accorded it a professorial chair. As behoved a regime 
whose watchword is peace, the French Government some 
years since instituted a second Legion of Honour. War- 
riors wear the red ribbon, academic dignities confer the 
purple ; the yellow rosette now chiefly encountered at 
agricultural shows and markets denotes the newly created 
ordre du nitrite agricole, or order of agricultural merit. Not 
only do we see this badge on the frock-coat of the pro- 
fessor, but occasionally it adorns the peasant's blue blouse. 
And if the former is gratified by such recognition of his 
services, how much more must the humble farmer or 
dairyman glory in his tiny orange rosette! For a bit 
of coloured ribbon may seem a small thing, but its sym- 
bolism may be immense. By what laborious hours and 
painful effort has not the husbandman's insignia been 
gained ! 

To appraise French character we should see our neigh- 
bours, not only in their own homes, but amid English 


surroundings. A former cicerone in Normandy, M. R 

twice afforded me the opportunity of returning the com- 
pliment on native soil. What struck me about my friend 
was the change that comes over a Frenchman as soon as 
he quits his own country, an attitude the exact reverse of 
an Englishman's mental condition abroad. In France a 
Frenchman's mood is invariably critical, that of a carper. 
Away from home he looks about for something to appre- 
ciate and admire. With ourselves, too often a fleeting 
glance or supercilious expression seem to be thought 
appropriate to everything foreign. 

And wherever he is a Frenchman's eyes are open. 
I well remember one instance of this when strolling with 

M. R on the parade at Hastings. It was in February, 

for my friend had crossed the channel in order to visit 
the horse show at Islington. As we now walked briskly 
along, I saw him look at the line of fly-horses, each well 
protected from the cold by a stout horse-cloth. 

" How admirably your cab-horses are cared for here ! " 
he observed ; adding, " I shall make a note of this for 
one of my lectures." 

And as the French peasant's want of consideration for 
his animals often arises from thoughtlessness, who knows 

M. R may prove a benefactor to cart-horses as well 

as those of the hackney carriage ? In the year of Queen 
Victoria's final jubilee, I had the pleasure of accompanying 
my friend to Rothamstead, spending a delightfully in- 
structive day with the late Sir John Lawes and his charm- 
ing granddaughters ; also of introducing him to the Natural 
History Museum at South Kensington. We had projected 
a visit to the agricultural school of Hollesley Bay, Suffolk, 
but the departmental professor of agriculture is the commis 
voyageur, the commercial traveller of the State, not always 

a very indulgent firm. M. R 's report was called for, 

and to our mutually-shared regret the expedition had to be 
given up. 


When I first knew my friend, he had just exchanged 
the modest post of rtpttiteur, or junior master in a State 
agricultural school, for that of departmental professor. 
I do not suppose any man living is more contented with 
his present lot a proud and happy pfae de famille, a wife 
of equally happy temperament, and two little sons making 
up his home circle, the combined incomes of husband and 
wife sufficing for daily needs, the education of their 
children, and the usual putting by. Truly to these civil 
servants of France may be applied the Roman poet's 
apostrophe, it is such men 

" Who make the golden mean their guide, 

Shun miser's cabin foul and dark, 
Shun gilded roofs, where pomp and pride 
Are envy's mark." 



IT is now twenty-five years since I made the acquain- 
tance of M. D , juge de paix of a canton in the 
Jura. We came to know each other in this way. 
I had hired a carriage for the three hours' drive from 
the superbly situated little town of Morez on he Bienne 
to the still more superbly situated little bishopric of St. 
Claude. As I never travel alone when agreeable company 
is to be had, I asked my friends to find me travelling com- 
panions, which they did. The elderly gentleman and his 
wife, bound like myself to St. Claude, immediately on arrival 
introduced me to their newly married daughter and her 
husband, lately named juge de paix of the district. With 
characteristic French amiability, Monsieur and Madame 

D set themselves the task not only of showing me the 

ancient little city and its surroundings, but its curious and 
time-honoured industries, the turnery and wood-carving 
done at home, each craftsman working under his own 

The pleasant and profitable intercourse of those few 
days ripened into friendship. A few years later I visited 
my friends in another romantic corner of the same depart- 
ment, Monsieur D having been nominated to a less 

remote canton. 

The juge de paix, it is hardly necessary to say, is a 
creation of the Revolution. In his person is represented 
one of the most sweeping reforms ever effected by pen and 


ink. The administration of justice was summarily trans- 
ferred from a privileged and venal class to responsible 
servants of the State. 

And here a word as to the title. This modestly paid 
interpreter of the law was thus named because his mission 
in a great measure was to conciliate, to prevent lawsuits by 
advice and impartial intervention. This cheap, simple, and 
paternal jurisdiction was instituted in the special interests 
of the peasant and the workman, formerly often ruined by 
the multiplicity of tribunals and rapacity of notaries and 

It must be remembered that from time immemorial 
the rural population in France has been a propertied class, 
hence the perpetual recurrence to litigation. Under the 
ancien regime, as to-day, Jacques Bonhomme and his 
neighbours would be at daggers drawn about limitations of 
newly acquired field, damages done by stray cattle, or some 
such matter. And the cheapness of going to law in these 
days may perhaps have fostered a litigious propensity. 
Certainly these rural magistrates have plenty to do. The 
juge depaix is appointed by the State, he receives a yearly 
stipend of three or four thousand francs, with a small 
retiring pension at sixty. As he must be thoroughly versed 
in the Code Civil, his services do not appear to be 
adequately remunerated, especially when we compare his 
office and its emoluments to those of the percepteur, or tax 
collector, the subject of my next sketch. On this point a 
French friend writes to me : " Percepteurs, even of the first 
and second grades (i.e. lower), are certainly better paid than 
the juge de paix. But the former is only a fiscal agent, 
whilst the latter is a magistrate charged with very varied 
and delicate duties. He must have a thorough knowledge 
of law ; the percepteur, on the contrary, need only be a man 
of ordinary education, for this reason I do not hesitate to 
place him below the other, although his services are much 
better remunerated." 


The responsibilities of the juge de paix are strictly 
limited. He can sentence to short terms of imprisonment 
and to fines not exceeding two hundred francs, the next 
stage in administration being that of the Tribunal 
correctionnel de Varrondissement. The arrondissement is 
that division of a department presided over by a sous-prttfet. 
In cases of burglary, accident, murder, suicide, arson, the 
juge de paix is immediately sent for. It is his business to 
seal the papers of defunct persons, and to represent the law 
at those conseils de famille, or family councils, I describe 

The especial function of the justice de paix regarded as 
a system is intermediary and preventive rather than 
judiciary. Disputes are always settled by friendly arbitra- 
tion when possible. Country folks, as I have said, have a 
marked proclivity for the procts verbal, in other words, 
going to law. Were, indeed, a rural judge paid according 
to his cases, he would die a millionaire. 

As we might expect, small unenclosed properties are a 
fruitful source of discord ; as we should certainly not expect 
among so easy-going a people, that unruly member the 
tongue is another. Diffamation, or the calling each other 
names, is constantly bringing neighbours into court, some 
of the scenes enacted being ludicrous in the extreme. 

Indeed, my friend assured me that the maintenance of 
gravity was often the most arduous and trying part of his 
sittings. But, he added, echoing the sentiment of the 
immortal Bagnet, " discipline must be maintained." 

The minimum fine for a case of backbiting and slander- 
ing is two francs, a large sum in Jacques Bonhomme's eyes. 
The mulct, however, does not prevent his womankind from 
calling each other "base and degrading Tildas" at the 
next opportunity. 

With my friend's young wife I attended a stance, or 
sitting, of the justice de paix, an experience not to be 
omitted by those who would study the French peasant. 


In the centre of the plain, airy court sat the judge, wearing 
his robes of office, high-crowned hat with silver band, 
advocate's black gown and white lappets. On his right 
sits his greffier, or clerk, also wearing judicial hat and gown ; 
on his left, his suppliant, or coadjutor, representing the 
public prosecutor. This last is an unpaid official. By the 
judge lies a copy of the Code Civil. This volume is not used 
in swearing witnesses, the only formula exacted being the 
words, " Par Dieu, les hommes, et la vtritt" (" by God, man, 
and the truth "). Above the chair of office was suspended 
crucifix. On the occasion of my visit several typical cases 
came before the judge. One of these concerned boundary 
marks. The disputants were both peasants the first, a 
grave, taciturn middle-aged man ; the other, a voluble 

young fellow, whose eloquence on his own behalf M. D 

had great difficulty in repressing. The affair was promptly 
disposed of. On that day fortnight, at eight o'clock in the 
morning, the litigants were bidden to appear on the con- 
tested borderland, when the rival claims would be adjusted 
by the judge in person. 

I also heard an old farmer in blue blouse plead his 
own cause with the shrewdness and pertinence of a counsel. 
The bone of contention was a contract, the other party, 
according to his showing, not having fulfilled his obligations. 
Property handed down from father to son proves an educa- 
tion in many senses, not only sharpening the wits, but 
rendering glib the tongue. 

It was interesting to note that no matter how noisy or 
self-asserting might be the litigants, the majesty of the 
law was ever readily acknowledged. The simple " You can 
retire" of the magistrate sufficed. Very rarely, I was 
informed, is it necessary to appeal to a gendarme. 

A juge de paix is sometimes confronted with problems 
only to be solved after the rough-and-ready methods of 
King Solomon or the equally subtle lawgiver of Bara- 
taria. From the strictest impartiality he must never 


deviate, hence the almost affectionate respect hemming 
him round. One perpetual surprise in France is the pre- 
vailing intellectuality, the general atmosphere of culture. 

These small officials M. D is one of several rural 

magistrates I ha\fe known are not only skilled in law 
and jurisprudence, but often possess considerable literary 
and artistic tastes. Cut off from the stimulus of great 
centres, travel, and congenial society, they do not allow 
themselves to vegetate, maintaining on the contrary an 
alert interest in matters lying wholly outside their own 
immediate venue. 

All fairly well educated Frenchmen have a good know- 
ledge of the national literature, due to early training. The 
love of the beautiful, so universally found throughout France, 
may, I think, be traced to the local museum. Hardly any 
town of a few thousand souls is without its art collection, 
and the influence of such object-lessons within easy reach 
is incalculable. 

One juge de paix I know had visited England, and 
amongst other experiences had seen Irving in some of his 
most famous roles. This gentleman could have passed, 
I dare say, an examination in Walter Scott and Dickens, 
darling topics on which, alas ! he could only discourse 
during the long vacation. From August to September he 
had a cover laid for him at the chateau whenever English 
guests were staying there, which was pretty often, the 
owners being good friends of England. 

Another rural magistrate of my acquaintance has long 
been a warm advocate of arbitration and of the entente 
cordiale. Two years ago he joined a local branch of the 
French Arbitration Society. 

" The bicycle, the bicycle ! " he said to me. " Ah ! there 
we have an admirable engine of propaganda. Miles and 
miles are members of the arbitration societies thereby 
enabled to cover, reaching out-of-the-way spots, and getting 
at the peasants as it is impossible to do by means of 


lectures and public meetings. A friendly chat over a glass 
of wine, a talk in the fields, that is the best means of 
obtaining the countryman's confidence." 

The speaker in question had private means, and with his 
young wife took holiday trips in the long vacation ; the pair 
kept a servant, and enjoyed comparative luxury. Of the 
manyjuges de paix I have known only one or two lived on 
such a scale. And the fact must never be lost sight of, 
prestige in France does not depend upon material 

Absence of pretence characterizes official life. A rural 
magistrate is not looked down upon because his wife 
happens to be her own cook, housemaid, and nurse. No 
word in the French lexicon precisely answers to our own 
" gentility " or its unspoken meaning. We do not in these 
days speak of living genteelly, but of doing as other people 
do, which amounts to the same thing. 

The French phrase comme il faut indicates something 
wholly different. To dress, behave, keep house comme il 
faut has reference only to the befitting, the adhesion to 
strict propriety. Appearance is not bent knee to, and if 
thrift is apt to degenerate into parsimony, and much that 
we regard as absolutely essential to comfort and well- 
being is sacrificed to the habit, we must yet whole heartedly 
admire the simple, unambitious, dignified life of the small 
French official. 



IN a certain sense an Englishman's home is a cara- 
vanserai, whilst a Frenchman's is a closely fortified 
castle, tradition here being completely at fault. 

This reflection has often crossed my mind when spend- 
ing week after week in French country houses. Under an 
English roof the visitor would be one of an uninterrupted 
succession, not only every spare bedchamber being occupied 
during the holiday season, but daily luncheons, garden 
parties, picnics, and other social entertainments making 
time and money fly ! 

Partly because our neighbours object to unnecessary 
outlay, partly because they object still more to anything 
in the way of household disorganization or interference 
with routine, an average country house over the water is a 
veritable fortress, drawbridge and portcullis only yielding 
to the " open sesame " of blood relationship. 

By virtue of propinquity, however, two or three in- 
dividuals are permitted within the charmed circle ; the first 
is the village priest, the second is the juge de paix, the 
third is the percepteur, or collector of revenue, or, as we 
should say, the tax gatherer. 

Before sketching my old acquaintance, M. le Percepteur 
R , let me say a few words about his office. 

The collector of revenue thus called was created by 
Napoleon when first consul. Fiscal resources had not been 

1 60 


successfully administered during the successive regimes of 
the two assemblies, the Convention and the Directoire. 
So thoroughly had the legislators of the Revolution re- 
formed abuses that, as Mignet tells us, the national resources 
quadrupled within a few years. But what with European 
and civil wars, internal administration suffered neglect. In 
many regions taxes had remained in arrears for consider- 
able periods. The municipal authorities superseding the 
hated Intendants of the ancien regime, charged also with 
the levying of troops, were unable satisfactorily to carry 
out both duties. Herein, in a great measure, writes 
M. Rambaud (" Civilization Franchise "), is to be discerned 
the genesis of the Terror. The law as it stood could not 
legally punish negligent or hostile functionaries. The 
representants en mission, or legislative emissaries, named by 
the Convention in order to remedy such a state of things, 
were veritable dictators, sending recalcitrants to the guillotine 
with short shrift. That charming story-teller Charles 
Nodier, in his " Souvenirs de la Revolution," describes from 
personal recollection an emissary of this kind, the terrible 
St. Just. 

Napoleon's scheme was somewhat modified, and the 
existing arrangement is as follows : to each canton or 
group of communes ^percepteur is named by the Minister 
of Finance, the nominee being obliged to produce a certain 
sum of money as guarantee. The Percepteur collects 
what are called contributions directes, the assessing of such 
taxes being in the hands of contrbleurs, or inspectors, by 
whom assessments are lodged with the local mayors, the 
mayors in their turn passing them on to the percepteurs 
each January. All moneys are paid to the Receveur, or 
paymaster of the arrondissement, an administrative division ; 
the Receveur again hands on the amount to the Tresorier, or 
treasurer of the department. Finally, the year's revenue 
finds its way into the State coffers. Contritions directes, 
i. direct taxation, comprise land tax and house duty, 



taxes on property and on patentes, or licences. Contribu- 
tions indirectes, i.e. indirect taxation, comprise stamp 
duties, excise, duties on tobacco, matches, traffic, etc. 
Octroi, or duties on produce, are levied by municipalities. 

The poor-law is non-existent in France. Ratepayers 
are not mulcted a sou for the maintenance of the sick 
and aged poor, or the indigent generally. 

The first-named charges, or contributions directes, fall 
upon all rents above 20 in Paris and 8 in the provinces. 
Windows are still taxed, but in 1831 the rate was lowered 
in order that workmen at home and in factories should not 
suffer from want of light and air. 

The relative proportion of State and municipal taxation 
is gathered from the following figures supplied by a friend. 
Of 119 francs paid in all, 64 and a fraction go to the 
budget, and 54 and a fraction to the town. Up till the 
year 1877 a much-hated official called garnissaire, or bailiff, 
could instal himself in the house of a defaulting taxpayer 
and there claim bed and board till all arrears were forth- 
coming. With the general increase of well-being and 
instruction, the function became a sinecure. Nowadays 
taxes are rapidly and easily collected from one end of 
France to the other. 

As the Percepteur's emoluments depend upon his venue, 
the post is often extremely lucrative, in large centres 
representing a thousand a year. The tax gatherer of a 
canton, on the other hand, will perhaps receive no more 
than 80 annually. It certainly seems somewhat in- 
consistent that the dispensation of justice should be less 
remunerated than the collection of revenue, the juge de 
paix, as I have before shown, never enjoying but the most 
modest stipend. 

Farm-houses and rural dwellings often lie wide apart. 
The Percepteur's domicile cannot lie within easy reach of 
all his creditors ; like Mahomet, he will be obliged to go 
to the mountain. In other words, the tax gatherer, as was 


the case with his hated predecessor of the ancien rtgime, 
from time to time makes a round, and is apparently ever 
welcome as the flowers in May. 

I always knew when M. le Percepteur R was 

expected by Burgundian friends with whom I formerly 
used to spend autumn holidays. Bustle is never a word 
suited to French methods. Among our sensible neigh- 
bours it is never a question of " The devil catch the hind- 
most." Folks daily rest on their oars. But if " a man of 
wealth is dubbed a man of worth," may not be a dictum 
universally accepted, the handling of national money- 
bags ever imparts unusual dignity. The worthy Percepteur 
was feted as if, like Sully, he was followed by wheelbarrows 
piled high with gold. 

All day long my hostess and her old cook would be 
up to their ears in business. Forest, field, and stream were 
laid under contribution in his honour. Oysters and other 
delicacies were ordered from the neighbouring town. 
Choicest wines and liqueurs were brought from the cellar. 
And, of course, the incomparable, ineffable dish before 

" Beast of chase or fowl. or game 
In pasty built," 

crowned the feast. 

Portly, jovial, middle-aged, and a bachelor, M. le 
Percepteur was excellent company. In French phrase, he 
bore the cost of conversation. Fiscalities and rural affairs 
formed the staple of talk, subjects of never-waning interest 
to the wine-growers and notaries present, and not without 
instruction for outsiders. 

Montaigne, who ever wrote like a nonagenarian, some- 
where dwells in his delightfully jog-trot, ambling way on 
the profit to be gained from men no matter their calling, if 
you listen to them on that calling. And if during the past 
twenty-five years I have attained some knowledge of 


French life and character, it is not from books at all, but 
from following Montaigne's rule, from listening to French- 
men and Frenchwomen on their own avocations. 

M. le Percepteur, after the manner of bachelors, coddled 
himself a bit, and before his departure begged a favour of 
me. He was in the habit of taking tea for the further- 
ance of digestion, and good tea in country places was 
unattainable. Would I be so amiable as to procure him 
some really first-rate Souchong ? 

Of course I was only too delighted to fulfil the 
commission, a poor return for indebtedness of other kind. 



" A PERFECT woman nobly planned " for practical 

/\ life, the young business lady offers a study 

A JL complex as that of the fastidiously-reared 

demoiselle belonging to fashionable society, whose dowry 

of itself ensures her a brilliant marriage. 

The exact counterpart of the French young lady of 
business, I should say, is nowhere to be found, certainly 
not in England. Aptitudes, ideals, physical and mental 
equation are essentially and ancestrally Gallic and con- 
servative. The wave of feminisme, or the woman's rights' 
movement, has not reached the sphere in which she moves ; 
if not a radiant figure, she is, at all times, a dignified and 
edifying one, by her Milton's precept having been early 
taken to heart 

" To know 

That which before us lies in daily life 
Is the prime wisdom." 

It may here be mentioned that, no matter her rank, a 
French girl is regarded as an old maid at the age of 
twenty-five. If neither married nor betrothed by the time 
she reaches that venerable period, by general consent, 
single blessedness awaits her. The spinster of fashion 
and society has two avenues from which to choose con- 
ventual seclusion or devotion to good works outside its 
walls. The business young lady pursues her avocations 
without mortification or repining at unpropitious fate. 



In leisured and wealthy classes the thought of approach- 
ing spinsterhood is a veritable nightmare. The hiding of 
mortified vanity or misplaced sentiment in a convent, or 
the assumption of a pietistic rdle amid old surroundings, 
involve bitter disillusion. What an end to the dazzling 
dreams and airy hopes of a few years before ! What a 
contrast to existence as pictured by the youthful com- 
municant in anticipatory bridal dress ! The Rubicon of 
twenty-five passed, a lady clerk or manageress contemplates 
the future undismayed. 

Old maids of twenty-five, whether portioned or no, 
may, of course, occasionally marry, especially in the work- 
a-day world ; and here it is curious to note the rigidity 
of etiquette obligatory on both. 

I have mentioned elsewhere that brides and bride- 
grooms elect, moving in good society, are invariably 
chaperoned. Alike indoors and out, a third person, not 
necessarily listening or looking on, must keep them com- 
pany. But seeing that girls, who earn their own living, 
attain habits of independence at an early age, we should 
expect to find such rules relaxed in their case. No 
such thing ! The young lady forewoman or bookkeeper, 
whether under or over twenty-five, cannot go to the 
theatre with her fianct unaccompanied by a relation ; 
still less can she take train with him, in order to visit 
friends ten miles off, whilst tete-d-tte strolls or visits 
to public places of entertainment are wholly out of 
the question. Even a well-conducted femme de 
cliambre is here as scrupulous as her eighteen-year-old 

The reputation of the young business lady, like that 
of Caesar's wife, must be beyond reproach. Dress, speech, 
deportment, must defy criticism. Advancement, increase 
of pay, her very bread, depend upon circumspection, a 
standard of conduct never deviated from in the least little 


Flirtation is no more permissible in the business world 
than in good society. The thing not existing in France, 
no equivalent for the word can be found in French 
dictionaries. A girl may have the maternal eye upon her 
or find herself thrown upon the world. Etiquette and 
bringing up forbid flirtation. Moreover, in young French- 
women of all ranks, outside Bohemia, is found what, for 
want of a precise term, I will call instinctive decorum 
(f instinct de biense"ance\ and sentimentality is not a French 
failing. No young business lady sighs for the kind of 
distraction so necessary to her English and American 
sisters. If marriage comes in her way, before arriving at 
a decision, she will carefully go over the pros and cons, 
wisely taking material as well as social matters into con- 
sideration. If the spinsterhood traditionally entered upon 
at twenty-five takes the shape of destiny, with even mind 
she will pursue her calling, to that devoting undivided 
energies, endeavouring every year to make herself more 
valuable to employers. Attracted as a needle by the 
magnet, step by step she will approach the goal of French 
workers, a small independence, the dignity of living upon 
one's means, of being able to inscribe one's self in the 
census rentier or rentihe. 

The pre-eminence of the French business woman I set 
down, firstly, to consummate ability ; secondly, to dogged, 
unremitting absorption in her duties. There is here no 
waste of mental force, no frittering away of talents. 
Capacities and acquirements are focussed to a single 

One of my acquaintances in the French work-a-day 
world is a girl of twenty-six, already at the head of a 
large establishment in Paris, having two clerks of the 
other sex, and older than herself, at her orders, and en- 
joying confidence so complete that her books are never so 
much as glanced at by the proprietors. 

This young lady once observed to me 


" I possess what, of course, is necessary to one in my 
position an excellent memory. Nobody is infallible, but 
I may say this much for myself, I rarely, if ever, forget 
anything. And the way to cultivate memory is to trust 
to it. 'Never write down what you are bound to re- 
member,' I say to my young clerks when I see them bring 
out a note-book." 

I have somewhere read that Thomas Brassey, the great 
railway contractor, was of the same opinion, using his 
memory only as tablets. 

Business hours over, the desk closed, office doors shut 
upon her, fast as omnibus, tramway, or metropolitan can 
carry her, the young business lady hurries home. The 
home, the family circle, added to these, perhaps, some 
friend of school days, exercise magnetic attraction. If the 
weather admits, not a moment will be spent indoors ; 
shopping and visits, in company of mother, sister, or friend, 
during the winter ; lounges in the public gardens, drives 
in the Bois, or excursions by penny steamer during the 
summer, make leisure moments fly. On half-holidays 
Chantilly, St. Germain-en-Laye, Meudon, even Fontaine- 
bleau are visited, whilst all the year round the drama 
forms a staple recreation. These young business women 
are often uncommonly good dramatic critics. If by virtue 
of twenty-five years, assumed spinsterhood, and position, 
they can patronize theatres inaccessible to girls of a 
different rank, they can fully appreciate the opera and the 
Frangais. It was in the company of a lady clerk that I 
witnessed La Cotirse au Flambeau, at the Renaissance, 
a piece from beginning to end serious as a sermon, its 
vital interest depending, not upon lovers' intrigues, but 
upon humdrum fireside realities, the tragedy of everyday 
family life. No more intelligent or appreciative com- 
panion at a play could be wished for than my young 
friend. Here, I would observe, that just as the interest 
of French travel is doubled by the fact of French 


companionship, so should theatre-going be enjoyed in 
French society. 

Novel-reading is not much indulged in by these busy 
girls. The French notion of enjoyment and relaxation is 
to be abroad, sunshine and fresh air, taken with beloved 
home-folk. Beyond such quiet pleasures and occasional 
excitements of wedding celebrations, always long drawn 
out in bourgeois circles, a visit to the opera, and in 
summer a brief holiday by the sea, life flows evenly. 
We are accustomed to regard the French as a volatile, 
pleasure-seeking, even frivolous, race. Nothing can be 
farther from the truth. In very truth our neighbours 
are the most persistently serious folk on the face of the 

If French employers are exacting, they are at the same 
time generous. A capable and trustworthy manageress, 
head clerk, or superintendent is sure to be handsomely 
remembered on New Year's Day, to have her salary raised 
from time to time, and growing confidence will be testified 
in many ways. 

The subject of Frenchwomen's position in the industrial 
world would fill a volume. Skilfully treated, the dry bones 
of statistics may be made to live ; but such a work is quite 
beyond my own powers, and would have little interest for 
the general reader. I leave figures and generalizations to 
others, contenting myself with describing business women 
I have known, and adding a few details as to salary, 
leisure, and accommodation. Naturally the non-resident 
clerk, giving a certain number of hours daily, is in a very 
different position to the directrice, or the manageress, who 
lives on the premises and can call no time her own, except 
precisely limited periods, sure to be spent by her at home. 
Board, lodging, and laundress being very expensive in 
Paris, quite a third higher than in any English town, the 
directrice is well rewarded for the sacrifice of time, the 
domestic fireside, and independence. I know at the present 


time a young lady employed in a public office whose salary 
is S a month for seven hours' daily attendance, with 
occasional Sunday duty. As she lives with her parents, 
such a sum enables her to contribute to the family budget, 
and at the same time lay by a little for old age or a 
dowry ! Many young business women achieve a modest 
portion with which to enter upon the partnership of wed- 
lock. The resident manageress, on the other hand, not 
only economizes the triple outlay of above mentioned, but 
obtains at least a higher salary. She is, however, expected 
to dress well, and dress in France, like everything else, 
from a postage stamp upwards, is much dearer than in 
England. The toilette of a business young lady makes 
a large hole in her earnings. Again, likely as not, she 
has family claims upon her, perhaps the partial support 
of a widowed mother, maybe the education of a young 
sister or brother. In spite of these and other drains upon 
her purse, you may be sure that she makes yearly or half- 
yearly investments. The young business woman, no less 
than the peasant, rendered M. Thiers' colossal task feasible. 
It was the indomitable thrift of the work-a-day world that 
enabled him to pay off the Prussian war indemnity of two 
hundred million sterling before the allotted term. 

The French nation is not like our own, an egregiously 
holiday-making one. Sunday closing, or partial closing, 
is on the increase both in town and country, but statutory 
holidays are unknown. 

A fortnight or three weeks during the year, an after- 
noon every other Sunday, two hours or so every alternate 
day with such breaks in the round of duty, a young 
business lady feels no call for dissatisfaction. And although 
serenely contemplating spinsterhood at twenty-five, mar- 
riage, with its mutually-shared cares and benisons, may 
come in her way ; if not, advancing years, loneliness, and 
other drawbacks of a celibate existence will be cheered 
and dignified by an honestly earned independence, the 


affectionately-hungered for position of rentttre, or a lady 
living upon her dividends. 

I have mentioned a young business lady's keen appre- 
ciation of high dramatic art. But taste is so generally 
cultivated in France that the trait is by no means ex- 
ceptional. It may, indeed, be said that up to a certain 
point every French man or woman is an artist. 




Y friend Madame Veuve M belongs to what 

is called in France " le haut commerce." In 
other words, she is a merchant, head of a 
wholesale house, as important as any of its kind in Paris. 

In the provinces lady merchants often have their 
dwellings close to the business premises. At Croix, near 
Lille, for instance, I once visited the mistress of a large 
linen manufactory, living in princely style within sound of 
mill-wheel and workmen's bell. Her vast brand-new 
mansion stood in charmingly laid-out grounds. As I made 
my way to the chief entrance I caught sight of the coach- 
house containing landau, brake, and brougham. On 
arriving, myself and friend were ushered by a major domo 
in superb livery through a suite of reception rooms all 
fitted up in the most luxurious style and adorned with 
palms and exotics. In the last salon we were received by a 
fashionably dressed lady, whose small white hands glittered 
with diamond rings. But my friend's warehouse which I 
have just visited is situated in the heart of commercial 
Paris, amidst that congeries of offices and wholesale houses 
around the Bourse, in some degree answering to our own 
city. Here of course an agreeable residential flat is out of 
the question, so every afternoon she journeys to her pretty 
country house, a quarter of an hour from the capital by 
rail. There she turns her back upon the work-a-day world, 
finding oblivion in flowers, pets, and the exercise of 



hospitality. Were it not, indeed, for these daily breaks in 
her arduous routine, she would never be able to support 
the perpetual mental strain entailed upon her. For this 
great business woman is not only the sole manager of a 
large concern, exporting her wares to all parts of the world, 
she is also an inventor, and her task of inventing is con- 
tinuous ; no sooner is one creation off her hands than she 
must set to work upon another. From the ist of January 
until the 3 1st of December, a brief interval excepted, the 
distracting process goes on ; the very thought makes one's 
brain whirl. 

Madame M , then, is the head of a large lingerie^ or 

fine-linen warehouse, one of those establishments from 
which issue trousseaux and the latest fashions in slips and 
morning gowns. For times have changed since the days 
of Mrs. Glegg and Mrs. Tulliver. We all remember how 
those worthy ladies had their under-linen always made of 
the same pattern. Nowadays dainty fabrications in silk, 
lawn, and lace must have as much novelty about them as 
dresses and bonnets, and when I add that my friend is her 
own exclusive designer, enough will have been said to 
indicate alike her responsibilities and her gifts. 

The demand for originality in lingerie is insatiable. 
Alike the cheapest and costliest model of one month must 
essentially differ from that of the last, and of course all 
madame's productions are models. Dispatched to the 
provinces, London, Cairo, the Transvaal, Ceylon, these 
patterns are copied by the hundred thousand. 

Think of such a task, the obligation of daily inventing 
a new petticoat or morning wrap! A novelist's duty of 
devising new incidents and unhackneyed imbroglios is 
surely light by comparison. No elegantly dressed lady 

like her country-woman just named is Madame M ; 

whilst her customers, lady shopkeepers, from the country 
drive up in the latest and richest toilettes, the mistress of 
this great establishment is as plainly and unpretendingly 


dressed as a woman-farmer or country innkeeper. You 
soon find out, however, that you are conversing with a 
person of very uncommon endowments endowments that 
would be very uncommon out of France. For there is no 
gainsaying the fact the French business woman forms a 
type apart, and the Parisian ouvrttre no less so. 

Madame M 's burdens are lightened by the compe- 
tence of her superintendent fitters and workmen. On this 
subject she was eloquent. 

" The Parisian ouvrttre" she said to me, " stands abso- 
lutely alone. In quickness, taste, and general ability she 
has no equal. The hand-sewn garments you admire so 
much are got through with amazing expeditiousness." 

Three hundred needlewomen are employed, who do 
the work, which is cut out for them, in their own homes, 
and earn from i a. week upwards. One of these brought 
home a bundle of peignoirs during my visit an alert- 
looking, bright-eyed girl, bareheaded after Parisian fashion, 
and evidently fully alive to the value of time. Depositing 
her pile, with a mere "Bon jour" to mistress and sub- 
ordinates, away she went quickly as she had come. In 
the warehouse four demoiselles are employed, a super- 
intendent, a cutter-out, a fitter, and a baster, i.e. one whose 
business it is to tack the respective parts of a model 
together. Highly instructive it was to watch the four 
severally occupied. A new morning gown was being 
tried on a dummy, the fitter and the baster putting their 
heads together and adding a dozen little improving touches. 
The forewoman was attending to a buyer, and seemed to 
know without being told exactly the kind of article she 
wanted. What struck me about all four was the evident 
pleasure taken by each in the exercise of their intelligence 
and the interest shown in their work. Evidently they con- 
sidered themselves, not mere wage-earners, but working 
partners in a great concern, the credit of the mistress's 
house being their affair as much as her own. Doubtless 

all four would in time themselves become business women, 
owners or managers of shops or warehouses. 

A great concern indeed is such a lingerie. So tremen- 
dous is the demand for new patterns that I was assured it 
is impossible to keep up the supply. 

" Everything you see here is sold," said my hostess to 
me, glancing at the closely packed shelves around her with 
almost a sigh. From floor to ceiling the place was packed 
with gossamer-like garments, not a vacant spot to be seen 
anywhere. The warehouse reminded me of a military 
store I had once seen in France, a vast emporium of 
soldiers' clothes kept in reserve, boots, kepis, pantaloons, 
and great-coats by the hundred thousand. Whilst these 
were all of a pattern, make and material not differing in 
the slightest particular, quite otherwise is it with Madame 

M 's elaborate productions. Here some difference 

either of shape or trimming stamped every article, from 
the hand-made peignoir trimmed with Valenciennes lace 
destined for rich trousseaux to the cheap but pretty slip 
within reach of the neat little ouvriere. Such divergence 
is a sine qua non, a kind of hall-mark. And in the hands 
of a Frenchwoman how often will the merest touch bring 
this result about ? An extra inch or two of lace, a clip of 
the scissors here, a stitch or two there, and the garment 
of yesterday has become a novelty ! 

Just as dolls are made in Germany, and return thither 
after being dressed in France, so Manchester nainsook and 
Nottingham lace are sent to Paris, returning to England 
in the shape of exquisite garments. Only Calais competes 
with Nottingham in the production of cheap pretty lace, 
and as the fashion in lingerie is now as capricious as that 
of millinery and dressmaking, Valenciennes and Maltese 
are generally superseded by the machine-made imitation. 
The consumption of Nottingham lace is enormous. 

The conclusion must not be jumped at that the neces- 
sity of daily inventing a new morning wrap or skirt, and 


closest attention to a large wholesale business, implies 
narrowness or want of sympathy. And here I would men- 
tion that even Balzac and Zola have occasionally rendered 
justice to the French business woman and bourgeoise 
generally. What a charming portrait is that of Constance 
Birotteau, and how exquisitely has Zola outlined the 
village bakeress in " Travail " ! A novelist of less rank, 
but of almost equal popularity, has made a mistress-baker 
heroine of a story. But Ohnet's portraiture in " Serge 
Panine " is spoiled by its melodramatic climax. It is a 
thousand pities that so few French novelists are realistic 
in the proper sense of the word, and that they so seldom 
represent life and character as they are in reality. 

How beautiful is friendship, for instance, and what a 
large part does friendship play in French lives ! Madame 

M delights in the exercise of unaffected hospitality, 

and at parting bade me remember that in her cottage 
ornte there was ever a bedroom at my service. So in 
September of the present year (1904) I accepted the 
genial invitation. 

My friend's cottage ornte, or villa, lies within a quarter 
of an hour of Paris on the western railway, and was built 
by herself is indeed as much her own creation as the 
elegancies in lace and muslin turned out under her direc- 
tion day after day. Her example was evidently being 
followed by others in search of quiet and rusticity. On 
either side of the road builders were busy, substantial 
dwellings in stone rising amid garden-ground to be, newly 
acquired plots as yet mere waste. And small wonder that 
commercial Paris thus bit by bit appropriates the verdant 
zone outside Thiers' fortifications, gradually becoming a 
kind of semi-suburban gentry, a landowning class having 
distinctive features. 

The village selected by Madame M for her country 

retreat is not picturesque, but happy in its surroundings, 
gentle slopes and woodland forming a plain entirely given 


up to market gardening. Not wholly unpoetic and cer- 
tainly grateful to the eye is the vast chess-board, patches 
of sea-green alternating with purple ; the rich yellow of 
the melon and reddish ochre of the gourd conspicuous as 
Chinese lanterns amid twilight foliage. 

With natural pride madame opened the gate of a 
handsome house built of stone, and square like its neigh- 
bours, with prettily laid out flower-garden front and back, 
and receding from the latter a couple of acres of kitchen 
garden and orchard, the whole testifying to rich soil and 
admirable cultivation. Flowers, fruit, and vegetables were 
here in the utmost luxuriance, with choice roses, although 
the season was advanced. What, however, most struck 
me was the populousness of the widow's domain. As we 
entered the roomy, elegantly fitted up dwelling a ten-year- 
old girl ran up to its mistress for a kiss. 

" My forewoman's little sister," madame informed me. 
" They have no friends living in the country who can 
receive them during the long vacation, so I have had both 
and a friend to stay with me. And, indeed, I am never 
alone," she added. 

Pet dogs, a cat, and pigeons must of course be caressed ; 
then I was introduced to the gardener and his wife, who 
acted the part of cook, my hostess being evidently on 
friendliest terms with her people here as in her business 
house. Delightful it was to witness this fellow-feeling, and 
to realize the family life of the villa, a domestic circle 
though not composed of kith and kin. It is less any place 
than its spirit that takes hold of the imagination. Amid 
these evidences of laboriously acquired wealth and open- 
handed dispensation and vicarious enjoyment, I could well 
understand a fact hitherto puzzling, namely, that the 
greatest woman-philanthropist of contemporary and indeed 
of historic France made her millions by shop-keeping ! 

The position of business women, won by sheer capacity 
and assiduousness, has been immensely strengthened by 



Republican legislation. The Code Civil, as is shown else- 
where, bears hardly upon the sex. Step by step such in- 
justice is being repaired. Thus by the law of 1897, for the 
first time women were entitled to act as witnesses in all 
civil transactions. Twenty years before an equally im- 
portant measure had been passed, and women heads of 
business houses became electors of candidates for the 
tribunaux de commerce, or what may be called commercial 
parliaments. The members forming this tribunal are called 
prud'Jiommes* and are chosen alike from the ranks of 
employers and employed. Their business is to settle all 
matters in discussion or dispute, a share in the representa- 
tion is, therefore, vital to feminine interests. Commercial 
tribunals in the interest of the productive classes are a 
creation of the Revolution, the first being opened by the 
Constituent Assembly. It was not till 1806 that Conseils 
de prud'hommes were organized in twenty-six industrial 
towns. The composition of those bodies was at first far 
from democratic, consisting half of masters, half of foremen 
and small employers. By a still more reactionary measure, 
in 1810 any council could imprison refractory workmen for 
three days. Doubtless ere long we shall find lady 
merchants and others, not only voting for the prud'hommes, 
but fulfilling their functions. 

* FrucThomme, Old French preu eThomme, or preux d'homtne t from the 
dog Latin prodem (Darmsteter and Hatzfeld). 



I LOVE Paris Parisien, the Paris not of cosmopolitan 
pleasure-seekers and idlers, but of the work-a-day 
world, Belleville and the Buttes Chaumont, the 
quays of the Canal St. Martin, the faubourg St. Antoine, 
above all, the Place de la Nation, with its monuments, 
sparkling basin fountains and shaded swards, Tuileries 
gardens of humble toilers. 

And how the work-a-day adores its Paris ! As I drove 
lately towards Montmartre, with a young business lady, 
whose home was in the eighteenth arrondissement, her 
face glowed with pleasure. 

"These quarters are so animated, so bustling," she 
said, as she revelled in the sights of the living stream 
around. It seems paradoxical to say that an urban 
population lives abroad, but certainly Parisians, alike the 
rich and the poor, spend as little time as possible within 
four walls. When we compare the advantages gratuitously 
enjoyed out of doors with the minimum of air, light, and 
sunshine obtainable by modest purses within, we can 
understand why it is so. 

What a contrast was presented to-day by the wide, 
sunny umbrageous boulevard Poissoniere and our destina- 
tion, a small interior on the third floor of a side street. 
" Space anyhow is dear in Paris," rejoined M. Bergeret's 



sister upon the philosopher observing that time and space 
existed in imagination only. 

Light and sunshine are higher priced still. The house- 
holder of narrow means must, above all, forego a cheerful 
look-out ; and all windows, whether looking north or south, 
east or west, are taxed. How comes it about, readers may 
ask, that a tax presumably so unpopular should remain 
on the statute book ? 

Doors and windows were first assessed under the 
Directoire, twenty centimes only being charged per 
window in communes of less than five thousand souls, 
sixty in those of the two first storeys in communes of 
a hundred thousand. The new duty aroused a storm of 
opposition. "What!" cried a member of the Cinq Cents. 
" If I wish to put a window looking east in my house in 
order that I may adore nature at sun-rising, I must pay 
duty ? If, in order to warm the chilly frame of my aged 
father, I want a southern outlet, I must pay duty? And 
if, in order to avoid the burning heat of Thermidor, I wish 
for an opening north, I must pay duty ? Surely it is pos- 
sible to chose an imposition less objectionable and odious ! " 

The levy was made, and, being increased later on, 
brought in sixteen million of francs. In 1900 the door 
and window tax produced thirty millions. 

By a law of 1832 some modifications were made in 
favour of factories and workmen's dwellings, as I have 
said, but it certainly seems strange that some substitute 
for this source of revenue should not be devised. And 
a Parisian window is often no window in the proper sense 
of the term. Coloured glass is now much used, and when 
I asked a friend living at Passy the reason why, she replied, 
that it was to prevent neighbours from overlooking each 
other ! 

The tiny flat to which I was now introduced consisted 
of small parlour, a mere slip of a kitchen, and two bed- 
rooms, all looking upon side walls, a craning of the neck 


being necessary in order to get even a peep at the sky. But 
the little salon, with its pianette, pictures, and pretty carpet, 
wore a cheerful, home-like look, and gaily enough we sat 
down to tea, the party consisting of my young com- 
panion, our hostess and her son, a pupil of the Con- 
servatoire, and an aspirant to the Comedie Frangaise. 
Sunless, cribbed, cabined, and confined, this little Mont- 
martre home might appear to outsiders, but it was 
irradiated with golden dreams, elated with airy hopes. 
Who could say ? This youth, now giving his days to the 
conning of French plays and poetry, might attain an 
aspirant's crowning ambition, make his histrionic d/but 
in the house of Moliere ? 

" You are working very hard ? " I asked. 
" All day long," was the reply. 

" But," I said, " you must surely require an occasional 

"No," the youth rejoined. "I find, on the contrary, 
that if I go into the country for a single day's holiday 
I have lost ground. The memory must be constantly 

" I presume that poetry is much easier to commit to 
memory than prose ? " 

" Infinitely, although both differ immensely in this 
respect, some writers being so much more difficult to 
remember than others." 

" Moliere, for instance, I should say ? " 
"You are right, Moliere is one of the most difficult 
poets to get by heart ; but practice is everything." 

After discussing his methods of study and the system 
pursued at the Conservatoire, we passed on to contem- 
porary drama. I mentioned a play I had just witnessed 
at the Frangais, whereupon he exclaimed, "Then you 
have seen my master," naming the leading actor, from 
whom he received lessons in declamation. 

The drama in France is indeed as essentially a 


profession as that of medicine, the law, or civil and military 
engineering ; it is furthermore, and in contradistinction 
to these, of absolutely gratuitous attainment. Native 
talent is thus developed and fostered to the utmost. The 
greatest actors give students the benefit of their gifts 
and experience, day after day unwearily presiding at 

Some readers doubtless may remember the delightful 
acting of Got acting, I should say, that reached the high 
watermark. At the height of his fame and in the zenith 
of his powers, this consummate artist would take a daily 
class at the Conservatoire. The masterpieces of dramatic 
literature are rehearsed again and again, with the most 
minute attention to accent, expression, and gesture. It 
is at the Franchise indeed the ambition of every student 
that the French tongue is heard in its purity. In their 
indispensable dictionary Messrs. Hatzfeld and Darmsteter 
inform us that they have adhered to the pronunciation of 
the best Parisian society, which is generally adopted by 
the Come'die Franchise. No greater treat than a matinee 
in Moliere's house can be enjoyed by a lover of French 
and French classic drama. 

The Conservatoire or school of music and declamation 
was founded by the Convention, and inaugurated in 1793, 
when no less than six hundred pupils entered their names 
as students under Me"hul, Gretry, and other masters. 
Already in 1784 musical and dramatic classes had been 
opened at Versailles under the direction of the Baron de 
Breteuil, the object in view being to provide the Trianon 
and royal theatre of Versailles with singers and players. 
In 1789 the Assembly took up the notion, the nucleus 
of a musical and dramatic school was transferred to Paris, 
and that same year it furnished no less than seventy-eight 
performers for the band of the National Guards. The 
Revolution, as has been remarked, was from first to last 
the most musical period of French history, and no doubt 


music was a great power in moving spirits and aiding 
the revolutionary cause. The example of Paris was 
followed by Lille, Toulon, Dijon, Metz, Marseilles, Nantes, 
and other large towns, their musical schools being called 
pfyinteres, or nurseries. The " Chant du Depart " and the 
" Marseillaise " expressed the military side of the Revolu- 
tion, the sentimental side was voiced in countless light airs 
recently unearthed by members of the Socitie de Vhistoire 
de la Revolution. Had I not been familiar with French 
life, my young friend's general culture would have come 
as a surprise. Here was a youth of eighteen, who on 
leaving school had entered a commercial house, intelli- 
gently, nay discriminately, discussing literature and the 
drama, at that early age exemplifying what I regard as 
the quintessential characteristic of our neighbours, namely, 
the critical faculty. Already he was thinking out theories 
for himself, by no means content to take other folks' 
opinions at haphazard as if playing at cross and pile. 
Family feeling is an adamantine chain in France. 

"I have given up the larger bedroom to Henri, as 
you see," madame had said, when showing me over her 
tiny flat. " He spends so much time indoors that it is 
necessary he should have all the space and air possible." 

And I could easily guess that the choice of such a 
career implied sacrifices of a more serious nature. By 
this time the student of the Conservatoire might have 
been bringing grist to the mill, earning as junior clerk 
perhaps two thousand francs a year. But the aspirant 
had fired his mother and sister with his own enthusiasm. 
Both utterly believed in the brilliant future foretold by 
youthful ambition. Moreover, the stage is held, and 
deservedly held, in high honour by our neighbours. 
Contemporary drama has usurped the functions of the 
pulpit without forfeiting its high claims as a school of 
classicism and culture ; the stage, alike by tragedy and 
comedy, brings human nature face to face with social 


vices and follies. Exemplifying this assertion, I need 
only mention one or two of the plays so successfully 
produced in leading theatres of late years, Les Rempla^antes, 
La course du Flambeau, Divorce, these among many others. 
By turns immorality, drunkenness, the wrongs caused by 
vicarious motherhood or wet nursing, and other phases 
of modern life are held up to reprobation and ridicule. 
Oftener, indeed, to weep rather than laugh, Parisians now 
fill the leading theatres. 



AS we all know, education in France is non-sectarian, 
obligatory, and gratuitous. How much store is 
set by the splendid educational opportunities 
afforded every French child the following story will show. 

Two years ago I was staying in Champagne with my 

friend Mademoiselle M , the middle-aged daughter of 

a former schoolmaster. Not for the first time I enjoyed 
"harbour and good company" under her hospitable roof, 
making acquaintance with a charming little circle. 

Mademoiselle M occupied her own roomy house, 

which stood on the outskirts of the little river-side town, 
a large fruit and vegetable garden at the back making 
pleasant shade ; a small annuity and the letting of spare 
rooms completed her modest income, from the sum-total 
something ever remaining for benevolence. In a small 
way, indeed, mademoiselle was a veritable Providence to 
the waif and stray. The late schoolmaster had left his 
daughter a library of several hundred volumes, and the 
part of the house retained for her own use was most 
comfortably furnished. But, knowing how small are the 
emoluments of village pedagogues, I could not account for 
the numerous works of art and objects of luxury seen on 
every side. Every room seemed full of wedding presents ! 

One afternoon my hostess invited some neighbours to 
tea, and I ventured a comment upon the exquisite tea- 
service and silver-gilt plate set out in their honour. 



"All gifts of pupils and pupils' parents to papa," was 
mademoiselle's reply ; " and when my visitors are gone I 
will show you some other things. At the New Year and 
on his fete day, my father always received handsome 
presents ; you see, he had been schoolmaster here so many 
years, and was so much beloved." 

A list of the treasures now displayed or pointed out to 
me would fill a page. All represented considerable outlay, 
and all, be it remembered, were offered by small officials, 
artisans, and peasants. I especially noticed a liqueur 
service of elegant cut-glass, enclosed in a case of polished 
rosewood. Another costly gift was an ormolu clock sur- 
mounted with figures, that must have cost a hundred francs 
at least. The entire collection, I should say, represented 
several thousand francs ; in each case we may be quite 
sure that these offerings involved, on the part of the donors, 
no little self-sacrifice. Here, then, was a palmary proof 
of the French peasant's progressiveness, of the high esteem 
in which he holds education. Excessive thrift and lavish 
generosity are not compatible, but next to his paternal 
acres he evidently values the hard-won privileges wrested 
from obscurantism and bigotry. 

Immense is the change that has come over the village 
schoolmaster since I first made his acquaintance in Anjou 
more than a quarter of a centry ago. The instituteur of 
the village in which I was then staying with French 
friends received 30 a year, besides lodging and trifling 
capitation fees. Both boys' and girls' schools were sup- 
ported by the State, but, unfortunately, the commune had 
been induced some years before to accept a house and 
piece of land from some rich resident, the conditions being 
that the school for girls should always be kept by nuns. 
The consequence was that, as education at that period was 
not strictly obligatory, boys were detained on the farm, the 
number of scholars being only twenty, whilst the girls 
numbered sixty. Under such circumstances the capitation 


fee was hardly worth taking into account. What mattered 
much more was the inequality of the instruction accorded, 
the schoolmasters possessing certificates of proficiency, the 
nuns being free to teach provided that they possessed nne 
lettre d obedience, a kind of character signed by the bishop. 

This difference was evidenced in the prize distribution, 
in which I was flatteringly invited to take part. Whilst 
the boys received amusing and instructive books of history, 
travel, and adventure, the girls got little theological 
treatises, the only attractive feature about them being 
gilt edges and a gaudy binding. 

Pitiable in the extreme was the position of a village 
schoolmaster during the MacMahon Presidency, indigence 
being often the least of his tribulations. The butt of 
clerical animosity, speech, action, and manners of life ever 
open to misinterpretation such was his position. The 
marvel is that candidates should be found for post so 
unenviable. Twenty-five years' strenuous fighting and 
endeavour have changed all this, and popular education 
in France is now the first in the world. 

For the victory belongs to the Third Republic, as a 
retrospective glance will show. The ancien rtgime did 
not deem the R's a common necessity. Like house- 
sparrows depending upon stray crumbs, poor folks' children 
got here and there a modicum of knowledge, Danton's 
"bread of the understanding." In the more favoured 
provinces Lorraine and Champagne, for instance were 
village schoolmasters fulfilling at the same time the func- 
tions of grave-digger, sacristan, bell-ringer, and sometimes 
combining with these a trade or handicraft. In the com- 
mune of Angles, Hautes Alpes, the schoolmaster offered 
to shave all the inhabitants for a consideration of two 
hundred livres yearly ! In very poor districts they were 
partly remunerated by meals taken alternately at the 
houses of their pupils. For want of a school-house, teach- 
ing, such as it was, had to be given in barns and stables, 


and when spring came both master and pupils exchanged 
the cross-row, strokes and pothooks for labours afield. 
These wandering pedagogues were called maitres ambulants. 
In Provence schoolmasters were hired at fairs, as is still 
the case with domestics in Normandy. 

One of the first preoccupations of Revolutionary leaders 
was the village school. Tallyrand laid a plan of popular 
education before the Constituant Condorcet drew up a 
scheme for the Legislative Assembly. The Convention 
revised and matured the respective systems of Barere, 
Lakanal, and others, but wars within and without the 
frontier, and want of finances, stood in the way. The 
noble project of non-sectarian, gratuitous, and obligatory 
instruction was adjourned for a century. 

Napoleon did not care to waste thought or money 
upon the education of the people. The sum of 4250 francs, 
just 170, was deemed by him quite sufficient for such a 
purpose. The Restoration magnanimously increased these 
figures to 50,000 francs, the monarchy of July raised the 
sum-total to three millions, the Second Empire to twelve 
million francs. The budget of the Third Republic is a 
hundred and sixty million, municipalities and communes 
adding a hundred million more. This sum does not 
include the money spent upon the erection of schools, 
hundreds having been built both in town and country. 

Instructive it was to zigzag through remote regions 
twenty years ago. I well remember an experience in the 
Burgundian highlands about this time. I was staying at 
Autun in order to be near my friends, the late Philip 
Gilbert Hamerton and his wife, and one day journeyed 
by diligence to Chateau Chinon, whilom capital of a little 
Celtic kingdom. 

The five hours' ascent by splendid roads led through 
the very heart of the Morvan, wooded hills, gloomy forests, 
and masses of rocks framing brilliant pastures and little 
streams. Amid these thinly populated scenes, only a 


straggling village or two passed on the way, one sign of 
progress met the eye the village school in course of 
erection. Of all French provinces Brittany was worst off 
as regards schools. A generation ago travellers might 
interrogate well-clad men and women, who, not under- 
standing a syllable of French, would shake their heads 
and pass on. At Nantes in 1875-6 the following inscrip- 
tion would meet my eyes: "Ecrivain publique, 10 centimes 
par lettre " (" Public writer, a penny per epistle "). Women 
servants who could read, much more write, in that great, 
rich city were rare indeed. My hostess, widow of a late 
prefet, kept a well-paid cook, also a housemaid. The pair 
were both as illiterate as Hottentots. 

All this belongs to the past. The noble dream of the 
Convention has been realized in its entirety. The Ferry 
laws of 1 88 1 and 1882, for once and for all, have ensured 
for every boy and girl born within the French dominions 
that greatest heritage, a good education. 

The following figures will show how the new state of 
things has affected both pupils and pedagogues. 

In every chef -lieu and commune numbering over 6000 
souls exists an upper and lower school for the people. The 
former, called the tcole primaire supfrieure, or college com- 
munal, was created so far back as 1833 by M. Guizot. 
The Ferry decrees considerably increased the number of 
these upper schools, as well as improving the condition of 
teachers. The course of instruction in communal colleges 
is essentially practical, being designed for those youths 
about to engage in commerce, industry, or agriculture. 

The maximum pay of schoolmasters in the primary 
school is 104 a year, with allowance for lodging, making 
a sum-total of 136; the minimum salary is ^40, with 
3 allowed for lodging. Women teachers receive the 
same pay in elementary schools, but slightly less in the 
communal colleges for girls. Masters and mistresses alike 
must be provided with a certificate, the brevet tttmentaire 


sufficing for a post in the primary schools, the brevet 
suptrieure being necessary for the college communal. It 
will be seen, then, that my Champennois acquaintances of 
half a dozen years ago are in a very different position to 
the poor Angevin pedagogue of 1876 with his miserable 
.30 a year. And from a social point of view his advance 
has been far greater. Under the reactionary Mac-Mahon 
regime the instituteur was a pariah, as I wrote at the time, 
" There is no one more liable to censure and to political 
and social persecution ; if not born a trimmer, able to 
please everybody, he pleases nobody, and has a hard time 
of it." If any reader doubts this assertion, I commend to 
his notice the writings of the late Jules Simon. 



THE evolution of the French peasant is the history 
of modern France. In the genesis of Jacques 
Bonhomme must be sought the origin of the 
Third Republic. 

By bourgeois agency, in a single night the ancien 
rtgime was swept into limbo, became the survival of an 
irrevocal past. The legislators of the two Assemblies and 
the Convention, with those of the present Palais Bourbon, 
belonged to the middle and professional classes. 

It was by peasant-born commanders that newly acquired 
liberties were guaranteed, by recruits torn from the plough 
that the combined forces of Europe were held at bay. 
To talk of " the French peasant " is to express one's self 
loosely. Not for a moment must we narrow the conception 
of Jacques Bonhomme to that of our own Hodge, still, as 
fifty years ago, earning a weekly pittance, and in old age 
depending on parish relief. 

The French peasant possesses France. He may or 
may not be in easy circumstances, happy, enlightened ; 
he is neither the degraded being portrayed by Zola and 
De Maupassant, nor perhaps the ideal rustic of George 
Sand's fascinating page. We must know him in order to 
get at the mean, to measure his qualities and aptitudes. 
To appreciate him as a social and political force personal 
acquaintance is not necessary ; so much the history of the 
last thirty-five years teaches us. But for the invested 



savings of the thrifty countryman, Thiers' task of liberating 
French territory from the Prussian invader might have 
been indefinitely prolonged. And since that terrible time, 
whenever the ship of State has been in deadly peril 
Jacques Bonhomme has acted the part of pilot bringing 
her safely to port, his role upon critical occasions saving 
the Republic. 

Readers of " La Terre " who do not know rural France 
must ask themselves, "Can anything good come out of 
Nazareth ? " The peasant-born rulers, legislators, scientists, 
and litterati of France, how are they to be accounted for ? 
History affords the clue. 

Recent examination of provincial archives shows us the 
slow but steady evolution of the countryman. Rousseau's 
well-known story of the peasant who, suspecting him to be 
a fiscal agent, affected direst neediness, and on discovering 
his error repaired it by open-hearted hospitality, was doubt- 
less no exceptional case. Despite exorbitant taxation and 
unimaginable hindrances alike to material and moral 
advancement, here and there small owners and even 
labourers educated their sons, dowered their daughters, 
and laid by a little money. 

In 1688 no less than forty-two sons of peasant pro- 
prietors and day labourers attended the upper classes of 
the college of Le Mans. In many communes, despite 
their fiscal and feudal burdens, the inhabitants subscribed 
among themselves in order to pay a schoolmaster. Many 
distinguished Frenchmen thus obtained their first instruc- 
tion, among these the erudite Mabillon, Villars, the 
botanist of Dauphin^ and The'nard, the eminent chemist, 
son of a poor peasant.* On this subject the testamentary 
documents and inventories preserved in provincial archives 
are very illuminating. 

Among the belongings of one day labourer in 1776 

* See the works of A. Babeau : " La vie Rurale dans 1'Ancienne France," 
" L Ecole de Village," etc., etc. 


we find a psalter and three books of " L' Imitation de 
J^sus Christ ; " of another, " Une Vie des Saints " and " Les 
Evangiles;" whilst a third (Archives de 1'Aube, 1772) was 
the possessor of two folios, viz. " L' Anatomie de I'homme " 
and " Le veritable Chirurgien." A fourth possessed a Latin 
dictionary, whilst musical instruments not infrequently 
figure in these inventories. It will thus be seen that 
anterior to the memorable Fourth of August the peasant 
was raising himself and was awake to the value of instruc- 
tion. He might echo the refrain so popular in Auvergne 

" Le pauvre laboureur 
Est toujours tourmente', 
Payant a la gabelle 
Et les deniers un roi ; 
Toujours devant sa porte, 
Garnison and sergent, 
Qui crieront sans cesse, 
Apportez de 1'argent." * 

But by dint of unimaginable thrift and laboriousness he 
contrived to have something worth willing away. Pre- 
revolutionary wills show a catholicity of sentiment un- 
dreamed of in Zola's philosophy. A labourer in 1752, for 
instance, after bequeathing the bulk of his little property 
to his children, leaves four arpents\ of cultivable land to 
the village church, thereby assuring perpetual masses for 
his soul and that of his wife, and remembers his day- 
labourers and woman servant by gifts of money and clothes 
(Archives de 1'Aube). 

Even dairymaids made their wills. Thus in 1685 a 
certain Edme"e Lambert, in the employ of Jacques Lajesse, 
estant au liet malade, saine toutefois de bon propos> mtmoirez et 

* Trans. " The poor labourer is perpetually harassed, paying salt tax and 
king's tax, always having at his door bailiff and sergeant, who never leave off 
crying, ' Money, money 1 ' " Garnison was the putting in possession till taxes 
were paid. See ' ' The Tax Collector." 

t The arpent was a variable measure containing a hundred perches more 
or less. 



entendement (" sick abed, but possessed of all her faculties "), . 
bequeaths a plot of ground and a crown (value from three 
to six livres or francs) to her parish church, in order that 
perpetual masses may be said for her soul ; a panier d 
mouche * to her master, " for the trouble he had taken about 
her ; " a second panier d mouche to a young fellow-servant 
of the other sex, " as a token of friendship ; " finally, the 
rest of her belongings, goods and money, to the wife of a 
neighbour, " in consideration of her goodwill and amity." 

The testatrix being unable to write, the will was signed 
by the cure" in presence of two witnesses. These wills were 
always drawn up by a notary and attested by two witnesses. 
"In nomine Domini, Amen" was the invariable formula 
with which these documents began. 

Equally instructive are marriage contracts. In 161 1, the 
brother of Jeanne Graveyron,on her marriage with a labourer, 
gives her as dowry, five livres f for the expenses of the wed- 
ding, thirty-five livres to keep, a bed, bedstead with hangings 
and bedclothes, sundry kitchen utensils, three new gowns, 
and a chest, fermant d clef (with lock and key), containing 
personal and household linen. The daughter of a labourer 
receives five measures of wine, four of wheat, and the sum 
of ninety livres en dot et chanctre\ pour tous ses droits 
paternels et maternels (" as a dowry, paternal and maternal "). 

Such facts as these help us to understand the unique 
position of the French peasant, no other country in the 
world showing his compeer. From century to century, from 
generation to generation, the rural population of France 
has been materially and morally progressive. That at the 
present day sixty-three per cent, of the inhabitants of 
communes numbering two thousand souls and under should 
occupy houses of their own, bears out the first position ; that 

* Panier d mouche, "a beehive." Bees are still called mouches in some 

t The livre, formerly from twenty to twenty-five sous in value. 
\ Chancre t dowry in land. 



alike in statesmanship, arms, science, and letters sons of 
peasants have risen to the first rank supports the latter. 
Not all provinces show the same degree of intelligence and 
well-being. Climate, soil, means of communication, differ- 
ences of tenure, affect the small farmer. Here we find 
comparative wealth, there a struggle with inadventitious 
circumstances. Thus the phylloxera brought about the 
temporary ruin of thousands, the sum-total of loss reaching 
that paid into Prussian coffers after the last war. There 
is indeed a gamut beginning with the humble mttayer but 
yesterday a hired labourer, and ending with the wealthy 
owner of acres added to from year to year. 

A contemporary novelist, in his sketches of rural life, 
draws the mean between " La Terre " and George Sand's 
idylls. M. Ren Bazin, in his " Terre qui meurt," however, 
writes with a purpose ; characterization plays a secondary 
part. This writer evidently regards peasant property and 
peasant life as conditions on the wane. And another well- 
known writer asserts that certain districts of France are 
daily suffering more and more from depopulation.* Year 
by year emigration citywards increases, and individualism, 
too, is rather on the increase than otherwise. 

Interrogated on this point, a large landowner in central 
France thus lately expressed himself to me 

"I do not hold with M. Ren Bazin's views. On the 
contrary, I rejoice that our young men show more initiative, 
more readiness to quit the paternal roof and make their 
way elsewhere, especially in the colonies ; France has 
too long fostered inertness and nostalgia. It is high time 
that our youth should manifest more enterprize and 

The patriarchal order of things is not always ideal. 

Thrift, too often taking the form of avarice, and paternal 

feeling are among the peasant's foremost characteristics. 

Laborious devotion to the patrimony of sons and successors 

* M. Octave Uzanne, in the Independent Review for April. 


is sometimes poorly rewarded. Neither among the opulent 
nor toiling masses do adulated children invariably prove 
dutiful. According to De Maupassant and other writers 
of his school, exaggerated parental fondness and self- 
sacrifice are frequently as pearls cast before swine. The 
hoarder-up for sons and daughters in his old age comes 
to be regarded as a burden. And in any case a burden 
imposed by law, La dette alimentaire, Art. 205, 207 of the 
Code Civil, not only obliges sons and daughters, but sons 
and daughters in law, to support their parents and those of 
their partners by marriage. 

If Balzac, George Sand, and Zola have failed to portray 
the French peasant as he is, how can a foreigner hope for 
success ? According to M. Octave Uzanne, Balzac, though 
a seer, an observant genius, has here only partially suc- 
ceeded ; Zola, in " La Terre," has given us mere pitiful 
caricatures ; George Sand, nineteenth-century pastorals, 
vague, fanciful, imaginative. 

I can only summarize the impressions of twenty-five 
years, and speak of Jacque Bonhomme as I have found him. 

It has been my good fortune and privilege to join hands 
with the peasant folk of Anjou in the round, old and 
young footing it merrily under the warm twilight heavens ; 
to crown the little laurfats, or prize-winners of communal 
schools ; to witness signatures and marriage registers in 
country churches ; and to sit out rustic wedding feasts, 
lasting four or five hours ! Many and many a time have 
I driven twenty miles across Breton solitudes, my driver 
and sole companion being a peasant in blue blouse, his 
bare feet thrust in sabots. Again and again has the 
small farmer, or m/tayer, quitted his work in order to show 
me his stock and answer my numerous and sometimes, I 
fear, indiscreet questions. Often, too, have I sat down to 
the midday table d'hftte of country towns on market days, 
the guests all belonging to one class. Their Sunday suits 
of broad cloth protected by the blue cotton blouse, sparing 


of words, swiftly degustating the varied meal set before 
them, these farmers would put to and drive home as soon 
as buying and selling were over, the attractions of a fair 
proving no lure. And here, there, and everywhere on 
French soil have I enjoyed rural hospitality. On the 
borders of Spain, within a stone's throw of the new 
Prussian frontier, in the vine-growing villages of Burgundy, 
and farmhouses of rich Normandy, in scattered CeVenol 
homesteads, on the banks of the Loire, the Marne, and 
many a beautiful river besides, in remote Breton hamlets 
have I ever found cheery welcome and an outspread board, 
humble or choice as the case might be. Whatever faults 
he may or may not possess, the French peasant is hospi- 
tality itself. I will here narrate a characteristic incident. 
A few years since I revisited a little Norman town, and 
was anxious to call upon a farmer and his wife living near 
who had shown me much kindness when first staying in 
the neighbourhood. Not wishing to surprise them at their 
midday meal, I lunched with my travelling companion at 
a little inn, afterwards sitting on a bench outside whilst 
our horse was being put to. A countrywoman, evidently 
a farmer's wife, who was also awaiting her vehicle, sat near 
with her marketings. 

" So you are going to see Madame C ? " she asked, 

after a little chat ; " an old friend of mine. But how sorry 
she will be that you did not go to dinner ! " she added ; 
"that you should sit down to table in an inn when you 
were only a mile and a half off! " 

And true enough, our former hostess chided me with 
real chagrin. 

"You would have been so welcome to what we had," 
she said ; " not perhaps all that we should wish to set 
before friends, but," she added gaily, "when there is less 
to eat, one eats less, that is all." 

The less was here, of course, used numerically, not 
standing for a smaller quantity, but for fewer dishes. 


A word here about the destitute and aged poor. Whilst 
in every French town we find handsome schools, generally 
a training college for teachers, and museum as well, one 
suburban building to which English eyes are accustomed 
is missing. The workhouse is unknown. Asiles, so-called, 
for homeless old people, and orphanages for waifs and 
strays abound ; these are the outcome of no poor-law, 
instead the organization of Catholic charity, and entirely 
under Catholic management, often mismanagement. Recent 
revelations concerning the homes of the Bon Pasteur bear 
out this assertion. 

It must not be inferred that the State is indifferent to 
its least fortunate subjects. 

Already in 1791 the care of the indigent and the infirm 
was proclaimed a national charge by the Constituent 
Assembly. The principle was not only upheld, but put 
into practice, by the Convention ; and, strange to say, many 
altruistic and hygienic measures were carried out during 
the violent Hbertist period, among these being the humane 
treatment of the insane, the teaching of the blind by means 
of raised letters, and the deaf and dumb by lip speech. In 
1 80 1 Napoleon, then First Consul, created a Conseil g/n/ral 
de r Assistance publique, or body charged with the adminis- 
tration of national relief. The budget devoted to this 
purpose in 1904 reached the sum of 140 millions of francs, 
the city of Paris alone spending fifty millions upon her 
sick, helpless, and abandoned poor. But help can never be 
claimed by those having children in a position to support 
them. In country places, when such is not the case, and 
the matter is proved past question, the commune acts the 
part of foster-parents, or, if a good Catholic, the unfortunate 
burden on his fellows finds harbourage in some orphanage 
of a religious house. I was once staying in an Angevin 
village of a few hundred souls ; only one inhabitant 
depended upon communal aid. Peasant ownership and 
pauperism are quarrelsome bedfellows. The small farmer 



may have to put up with a shrewish daughter-in-law in his 
failing years. A thousand times more endurable to his 
proud independent spirit the Regan or Goneril of his own 
roof-tree than the soft-voiced sister of a charitable house ! 

Dignity I should set down as the leading, the quint- 
essential characteristic of the French peasants ; next to 
this quality, a purely mental one that of shrewdness, 
ofttimes carried to the point of cunning ; and thirdly must 
be put foresight, taking the form of thrift. He is unique, 
a type apart. Jacques Bonhomme has his faults and short- 
comings with the rest of mortal born. He may occasionally 
remind us of Zola's caricatures or De Maupassant's scathing 
portraiture, rarely may we encounter George Sand's ideals. 
But as a moral, intellectual, and social type, he stands 
alone, in his person representing the homely virtues, the 
mental equilibrium, the civic stability which, if they do 
not make, at least maintain, the surpassing greatness of 



THROUGHOUT a long and varied experience of 
French life, I have ever made it my rule to 
associate with all sorts and conditions of men. 
With no little pleasure, therefore, I lately received the 
following invitation : 

"Our Marcel," lately wrote an old friend, "has just 
taken over a large restaurant in Paris, and my husband 
and myself are helping the young couple through the first 
difficult months. Pray pay us an early visit when next 
here. We shall be delighted to see you to ctijeuner or 

Madame J mtre, the writer of these lines, belongs 

to a close ring, a marked class, to that consummate feminine 
type the French business woman. Search the world 
through and you will not match the admirable combination, 
physical and mental powers nicely balanced, unsurpassed 
aptitude for organization and general capacity putting out- 
siders to the blush. 

Well pleased with the prospect of fresh insight into 
bourgeois life, a week or two later I started for Paris, my 
first visit being paid to Marcel's restaurant. I had known 
the young proprietor from his childhood, and Marcel he 
still remained to me. 

What a scene of methodical bustle the place presented ! 
I was here in the region known as Le Sentier that part 



of Paris lying near the Bourse, made up of warehouses and 
offices, in some degree answering to our own city. 

It was now noon, the Parisian hour of dtjeuner, for in 
business quarters the midday meal is still so called, lunch 
being adopted by society and fashionable hotels only. 
Marcel's clientele is naturally commercial and cosmopolitan. 
In flocked Germans, Russians, Italians, Japanese, with, of 
course, English. The Nijni Novgorod Fair could hardly 
be more of a Babel. In a very short time the three large 
dining-rooms were filled with well-dressed men and women 
of all nationalities, no sooner one occupant throwing down 
his napkin than the linen of his table being changed with 
what looked like legerdemain, a veritable sleight-of-hand. 
That changing of napery for each guest bespeaks the con- 
duct of the restaurant. Here, indeed, and at a few similar 
establishments in Paris, are to be had scrupulous clean- 
liness and well-cooked viands of first-rate quality at the 
lowest possible price. 

One franc seventy-five centimes (one and fivepence 
halfpenny) is the fixed tariff both at dtjeuner and dinner. 
For this small sum the client is entitled to half a pint of 
a good mn ordinaire, a hors d'ceuvre i.e. bread and butter 
with radishes, anchovies, or some other appetizing trifle 
and the choice of two dishes from a very varied bill of fare. 

As I glanced at the list, I noted with some surprise 
that many expensive meats were included salmon, game, 

and poultry, for instance. Monsieur J ptre smilingly 

enlightened me on the subject. 

" You should accompany me one morning at five o'clock 
to the Halles," he said ; "you would then understand the 
matter. Every day I set out, accompanied by two men- 
servants with hand-trucks, which they bring back laden 
fish, meat, vegetables, eggs, butter, poultry, and game. I 
buy everything direct from the vendors, thus getting pro- 
visions at wholesale prices. Some articles are always 
cheap, whilst others are always dear. I set one against 


the other. Take soles, for instance : soles are always high- 
priced in Paris, but at the markets the other day I bought 
up an entire lot, several dozen kilos, and the consequence 
was that they cost me no more than herrings ! " 

As monsieur and madame the elder and myself chatted 
over our excellent dejeuner, the young master was busily 
helping his waiters, whilst his wife, perched at a high desk, 
made out the bills and received money. Folks trooped in 
and trooped out ; tables were cleared and re-arranged with 
marvellous rapidity. Waiters rushed to and fro balancing 
half a dozen dishes on one shoulder, as only Parisian 
waiters can, meals served being at the rate of two a 
minute ! 

" Next in importance to the quality of the viands," my 
informant went on, " is the excellence of the cooking. We 
keep four cooks, each a chef in his own department, no 
apprentices, or gdte-sauces, as we call them. One of our 
cooks is a rdtisseur, his sole business being to roast ; 
another is a saucier, who is entirely given up to sauce- 
making " 

Here my old friend stopped, my intense look of amuse- 
ment exciting his own, and, indeed, the matter seemed 
one for mirth, also for a humiliating comparison. Since 
the utterance of Voltaire's scathing utterance, England 
pilloried as the benighted country of one sauce, how little 
have we progressed ! In a London restaurant how many 
sauces could we select from in sitting down to an eighteen- 
penny meal ? Probably two or three, i.e. mint-sauce in 
May and apple-sauce in October, throughout the rest of 
the year contenting ourselves with melted butter. Truly, 
they manage these things better in France. I dare aver 
that here the thrice-favoured diner could enjoy a different 
sauce on each day of the year. Again, I could not help 
making another comparison. The unhappy rdtisseur ! 
What a terrible sameness, that perpetual roasting from 
January to December! The saucier, on the contrary, must 


be set down as a highly favoured individual, having a quite 
unlimited field for the play of fancy and imagination. 

"The third cooks vegetables, and the fourth prepares 
soups and stews. Pastry and ices, being in comparatively 
small demand, are supplied from outside. We employ four 
waiters " 

Here, a second time, I could not resist an ejaculation 
of surprise. At least a score of the nimblest, most adroit 
beings imaginable seemed on duty, so lightning-like their 
movements that each, in a sense, quadrupling himself, 
appeared to be in several places at once. That marvellous 
adjusting of a dozen dishes, the shoulder doing duty as 
a dumb waiter, is another surprising feat, perhaps explained 
as follows : A friend of my own attributes French nimble- 
ness to a difference in the seat of gravity. Why do French 
folks never slip on floors and stairs, however highly polished,? 
Because, he says, their centre of gravity differs from our 
own. Be this as it may, French plates and dishes, when 
overturned, are attracted to the ground precisely like 
Newton's apple. 

"Our waiters receive wages," my informant went on, 
"and of course get a great deal in tips, sometimes a 
hundred francs to divide between them in a day. Out 
of this, however, they have to pay for breakages, and 
immense numbers of plates and dishes are smashed in the 
course of the year." 

If Frenchmen can keep their feet under circumstances 
perilous to the rest of the world, they are naturally not 
proof against shocks. And in these crowded dining- 
rooms the wonder is that accidents were not constantly 

Dtjeuner over, Madame J mtre accompanied me 

for a stroll on the boulevard. What a difference between 
the Paris Sentier and the London City ! 

The weather was neither balmy nor sultry, yet the 
broad pavement of the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle was 


turned into a veritable recreation ground. Here, in the 
very heart of commercial Paris, as in the Pare Monceaux 
or the Champs Elyse'es, ladies and nursemaids sat in rows, 
whilst children trundled their hoops or played ball. So 
long as out-of-door life is practicable, French folks will 
not spend the day within four walls, this habit, perhaps, 
greatly accounting for the national cheerfulness. Delightful 
it was to see how old and young enjoyed themselves amid 
the prevailing noise and bustle, the enormously wide pave- 
ment having room for all. The boulevard is, indeed, alike 
lounge, playground, and promenade. On the boulevard 
is focussed the life of Paris, and, to my thinking, nowhere 
is this life more worth studying than in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the noble Porte St. Denis. 

As we strolled to and fro I had a very interesting and 

suggestive conversation with Madame J , senior, and 

as her share of it throws an interesting light upon French 
modes of thought, I venture to repeat a portion. 

"Yes," she said, "my husband and myself are both 
well pleased with our daughter-in-law. She brought our 
son no fortune " 

" No fortune ? " I interrupted, incredulously. 

" That is to say, no fortune to speak of, nothing to be 
called a dowry. When advising Marcel as to the choice 
of a wife we did not encourage him to look out for money ; 
on the contrary, whilst he could have married into moneyed 
families, he chose, with our approbation, a portionless girl, 
but one well fitted by character and education to be an 
aid and companion to her husband. Suppose, for instance, 
that he had married a girl, say, with capital bringing in 
two or three thousand francs a year. She would have 
been quite above keeping the books and living in the 
restaurant, and most likely would have needed her entire 
income for dress and amusements. No, it is very bad 
policy for a young man who has his way to make to look 
out for a dot. I have always found it so, more than one 


young man of my acquaintance having been ruined by a 
pretentious and thriftless wife. My daughter-in-law, as 
you see, takes kindly to her duties and position. She is 
amiable, intelligent, and simple in her habits. With such 
a wife Marcel is sure to get on." 

For the next few years this young couple will give 
their minds entirely to business, foregoing comfort, ease, 
and recreation in order to insure the future and lay the 
foundations of ultimate fortune. By-and-by, when affairs 
have been put on a sure footing, they will take a pretty 
little flat near. Monsieur's place will be occasionally taken 
by a head waiter ; madame's duties at the desk relegated 
to a lady book-keeper. English and French ideals of life 
differ. To the French mind any sacrifices appear light 
when made in the interest of the future above all, the 
future of one's children. Doubtless by the time this young 
restaurateur and his wife have reached middle age they 
will have amassed a small fortune, and, long before old 
age overtakes them, be able to retire. 

Let no one suppose that sordidness is the necessary 
result of such matter-of-fact views. Here, at least, high 
commercial standard and rules of conduct go hand-in-hand 
with uncompromising laboriousness and thrift ; for in France 
the stimulus to exertion, the lodestar of existence, the 
corner-stone of domestic polity, is concern for the beings 
as yet unborn, the worthy foundation of a family. 

The super-excellent education now received by every 
French citizen is not thrown away. I found restaurant- 
keeping by no means incompatible with literary and artistic 
taste an intelligent appreciation of good books, good 
pictures, and good music. 

On our return to the restaurant for tea, we found the 
large dining-rooms deserted except for three somnolent 
figures in one corner. One waiter was enjoying his after- 
noon out ; his companions were getting a nap, with their 
feet on chairs. All was spick and span in readiness for 


the invasion at six o'clock. Meantime, we had the place 
to ourselves. 

In the midst of our tea-drinking, however, a gentlemanly- 
looking individual, wearing a tall hat and frock-coat, entered, 
and, after a short colloquy with the young master, passed 
out again. 

"You would never guess that gentleman's errand," 
Marcel said, smiling as he re-seated himself at the tea- 

" He looked to me like a rather distinguished customer," 
I replied ; " some Government functionary on half-pay, or 
small rentier" 

Marcel smiled again. 

"That well-dressed gentleman, then, supplies us with 
tooth-picks, which his wife makes at home. He calls once 
a month, and our orders amount to about a franc a day. 
I dare say he and his wife between them make from thirty 
to forty francs a week, and contrive to keep up appear- 
ances upon that sum. It is an instance of what we call 
la mistre dorte " (" gilded poverty "). 

Truly one lives to learn. That retailer of cure-dents, 
in his silk hat and frock-coat, was another novel experience 
of Parisian life an experience not without its pathos. I 
shall not easily forget the gentlemanly-looking man with 
his long favoris and his odd industry. I add that the 
Paris City i.e. Le Sentier since July last has followed 
English initiative, warehouses and offices being now closed 
herein from noon on Saturday till Monday morning. 



T HATE sights," wrote Charles Lamb, and with myself 
the speech touches a sympathetic chord. I do not 
A suppose that I should ever have visited the Church 
of Val-de-Grace ; certainly I should never have crossed 
the threshold of the great military hospital as a sightseer. 
But a few years ago an old and valued friend was in- 
valided within its walls, and I ran over to Paris for the 
purpose of seeing him. The handsome Romanesque 
Church of Val-de-Grice was built in the reign of Louis 
XIV., and the hospital occupies the site of an ancient 
abbey, but Napoleonic memories are recalled at every 
step. As you approach the Observatoire a bronze statue 
meets your eyes that of " Le brave des braves," the lion- 
hearted Ney, who fell here on a December morning in the 
year of Waterloo. 

" Soldats, droit au cceur ! " (" Soldiers, straight at the 
heart " !) he shouted, his last word of command as he 
confronted the companions-in-arms charged with his 

In front of the hospital stands another and much finer 
statue David d' Anger's bronze figure of Larrey, Napoleon's 
army surgeon. " The most virtuous man I ever met with," 
declared the Emperor at St. Helena, when handsomely 
remembering him in his will. 

Larrey was not only a great surgeon and the initiator 
of many modern methods, he was a great moral inventor. 



Attached to the Army of the Rhine in 1792, he thereupon 
organized the first ambulance service introduced in war- 
fare, later adopted throughout Europe. After serving in 
twenty-five campaigns, including the expedition to Moscow, 
and narrowly escaping with his life at Waterloo, Larrey 
died at the post of duty in 1842. The inspection of a 
fever hospital in Algeria brought on an illness which 
terminated his noble career. 

It was a bright afternoon in April when I paid my 
first visit to Val-de-Grace. What a contrast did that 
gloomy interior present to the sunny, animated, tumul- 
tuous world without ! In spring and early summer the 
Paris boulevards have very little in common with the 
crowded thoroughfares of other cities. The stately avenues 
of freshly budded green, the children making a playground 
of the broad pavement, the groups of loungers quaffing 
their coffee or lemonade amid oleander and pomegranate 
trees, the gaily moving crowds, make up a whole im- 
possible to match elsewhere. " The cheerful ways of men " 
are more than cheerful here. One feels exhilarated, one 
knows not why. Inexpressibly dreary seemed the vast 
building in which my friend had spent many months. 

" II n'est pas bien gai ici " (" It is not very lively here "), 
was all he said, as we sat down for a chat. The French 
soldier never complains. The commandant's windows 
overlooked the garden, now showing freshly budded 
foliage ; sparrows twittered joyously among the branches, 
sunshine flooded the place, yet nothing could well be more 

Sick and disabled soldiers sunned themselves on the 
benches or hobbled up and down the straight walks. Here 
was a white-faced convalescent recovering from malaria 
contracted in Algeria, there a victim to acute sciatica 
brought on by exposure in the French Alps ; a third had 
been stricken by sunstroke in Tonkin ; a fourth had 
succumbed to fatigue during the last autumn's manoeuvres ; 


the majority, as was the case with my friend, having 
sacrificed health to duty in times of peace. There was 
indescribable pathos in the aspect of these invalided 

In French civil hospitals the Sisters of St. Vincent de 
Paul add a picturesque element. At Val-de-Grdce the 
nursing staff consists entirely of men. Each officer who 
pays a certain sum for accommodation has a soldier told 
off to wait upon him, often some conscript who has chosen 
hospital service instead of life in barracks. Medical 
students frequently serve their term as nurses or attendants, 
the interval being utilized practically. Seminarists also 
prefer the hospital to the camp. 

The commandant's room was furnished with Spartan 
simplicity, but doubtless with all that he wanted an iron 
bedstead, an armchair, a second chair for a visitor, pegs 
for coats and dressing-gowns, a toilet table with drawers, 
a centre table on which lay a few newspapers, a somewhat 
shabby volume of Herbert Spencer translated into French, 
and another volume or two. Pianos are out of place in a 
hospital, otherwise I should most certainly have found 
here that incomparable lightener of gloom and solitude, 
my friend being an enthusiastic musician. His long con- 
valescence had now alas ! for the time being only come 
to an end, and he was shortly about to resume his post in 
one of the provinces. 

" The winter months seemed long. How I should have 

got through them without my comrade D 's visits 

Heaven only knows," he said, adding sadly, " I shall never 
be able to repay such devotion never, never ! " 

This brother officer, now stationed in Paris, had been 
a school and college comrade. The pair were knit by 
brotherly affection, addressing each other with the charm- 
ing " thee " and " thou " of the Quakers. The one was' 
in fine health, and rapidly rising in his profession ; the 
other's equally hopeful career had been checked by illness 


contracted in discharge of his duties. No shadow dimmed 
their friendship. 

The commandant went on to tell me how hardly a 

winter day had passed without D 's cheery visit. No 

matter the weather rain might be falling in torrents, sleet 
and snow might be blinding, a fierce east wind might make 
the strongest wince at some hour or other he would hear 
the thrice welcome footsteps outside, in would burst his 
friend with cheery handshake and enlivening talk. The 
long invalid's day was broken, whiffs from the outer world 
cheered the dreary place, warm affection gladdened the 
sick man's heart. Despite weather, distance, and the 
obligations of an onerous service, his comrade made time 
for a visit. Making time in this case is no misuse of words. 
Only those familiar with military routine in France can 
realize what such devotion really meant. An officer in 
garrison has comparatively an easy time of it to that 
of his fellow-soldier in the bureau, whose work is official 
rather than active. These indefatigable servants of the 
State, from the highest to the most modest ranks, receive 
very moderate emoluments, and voluntaryism is not com- 
patible with military discipline. Little margin of leisure 
is left to the busy officer. 

As I have said, French soldiers never complain. With 
them the post of duty is ever the post of honour. The 
commandant's terrible illness had been brought on by the 
supervision of engineering works on the Franco-Italian 
frontier during an Arctic winter. 

" Climate, climate ! " he said. " There is the soldier's 
redoubtable enemy alike in times of war and peace. I 
started on this survey in fine health, and returned a 
wreck. You see, I had come from the south, and the 
change was too sudden and too great. I was often 
obliged to start with my comrades for a long drive at 
dawn and in an open vehicle amid blinding snow. At 
other times we had to take bridle-paths on horseback, 


often a little girl acting as guide. You may be sure we 
comforted the poor child with food and hot wine at the 
first auberge reached, but these dales folk are a hardy 
race. What is a dangerous ordeal to others is a trifle 
to them. I lost my health in those regions. Mais que 
voulez vous? A soldier does not choose his post." 

During the following days we took several drives, the 
sunshine, the April foliage, the general animation impart- 
ing temporary oblivion of past sufferings and anxiety 
concerning the future. It was something to feel that he 
would shortly be at work once more, and if his strength 
should finally give way " A lors, le repos tiernel" he 
would say with a sad smile. 

Devoted to music, eminently sociable, largely endowed 
with the French aptitude rather, I will say, genius for 
friendship, no man was ever more fitted to enjoy life. In 
earlier years, as a comrade had said of him, il etait la gaieti 
meme ("he had been gaiety itself"). In these pleasant 
hours abroad the old self came back ; a more delightful 
cicerone in Paris you could not have. We did not spend 
our time in sightseeing, but in the forenoon strolled through 
the markets, revelling in the sight of flowers, fruit, and 
vegetables, or, after dtjeuner, chatted over a newspaper in 
some square or public garden, and a cup of coffee or glass 
of sirop and water on the boulevard, taking a long drive 
or turning into some place of popular entertainment. My 
short stay passed all too quickly, but we met elsewhere in 
the autumn, and again and again would the old self come 

But such gleams of revived health and spirits were 
transitory. After a brief resumption of service the com- 
mandant retired on half pay, not too long having to wait 
for le repos tternel, so much more welcome to him than 
valetudinarianism and enforced inactivity, the Legion of 
Honour his sole reward in lifetime strange to say, that 
reward not entitling him to a soldier's grave. 


There is something appalling in the expeditiousness 
with which one's friends are hurried into the tomb in 
France. Three months after spending some days near 
the invalid, and a few days only after receiving a note 
from him, came tidings of last illness, death, and interment, 
twenty-four hours only separating the last two. And 
some months later I learned that an officer on half pay, no 
matter how distinguished, is not entitled to burial in that 
part of a cemetery set apart for military men. Unless a 
site is purchased beforehand, or by his representatives, 
a military funeral is followed by interment in the common 
burial-ground. And this is what happened in my friend's 
case a circumstance, I hardly know why, filling me with 
hardly less sadness than the news of his death itself. 

But that lonely far-off grave is ever carefully tended, 
for flowers and shrubs brighten it. From time to time a 
tiny nosegay gathered therefrom reaches the home of his 
unforgetting English friend. 



THE gist of French travel, to my thinking, lies in 
French companionship. Native eyes help to 
sharpen our own, and native wit enlivens every 
passing incident. Incomplete, indeed, had been my own 
survey of rural France without such aid and stimulus, and 
to no fellow-traveller do I owe more than to the patronne 
of a popular hotel " east of Paris." Our journey, more- 
over, was made under circumstances so novel and piquant 
that it stands by itself. 

A wife at sixteen, afterwards mother of several children, 
and co-manageress with her husband of a large establish- 
ment by the time she was barely of age, Madame C 's 

aptitude for business and organization would have been 
remarkable in any other country. With Julius Caesar this 
clear-headed little Frenchwoman at the time I write of 
middle-aged could do three things at once ; that is to say, 
she could add up figures whilst giving orders to cook or 
chambermaids and answering miscellaneous questions put 
by English tourists. Interruptions that would prove simply 
maddening to other folks did not confuse or irritate her in 
the very least. Equally admirable was her dealing with 
practical details, the discriminating choice of subordinates, 
methodical conduct of daily routine, the throroughness of 
her supervision. Let it not for a moment be presumed 
that hotel-keeping and attention to maternal duties shut 



out other interests. To the utmost she had profited by an 
excellent middle-class education, was well versed in French 
classic literature, could enjoy good music and art, and on 
half-holidays would take her children to the magnificent 
town museum, pour former leurs id/es, in order to cultivate 
their minds. That books were more to her than mere 
pastime the following incident will show. 

We were one day discussing favourite authors, when 
she told me that during a recent convalescence she had 
re-read Corneille's plays right through, adding 

" And in each discovering new beauties ; it is the same 
with all great writers." 

The patronne of the Ecu d'Or was not only charming 
company, but a devoted friend ; and when a few years 
ago I wanted a fellow-traveller, I luckily bethought myself 
of my actual hostess. The proposal was accepted. Mon- 
sieur, ever solicitous of his wife's pleasure, cheerfully 
undertook double duty for a fortnight, and in high spirits 
we set off. 

It was, I believe, Madame C 's first journey as a 

tourist since her wedding trip, often the only trip of a busy 
Frenchwoman's life. Perhaps had she overrun Europe 
after the manner of the modern globe-trotter, she would 
not have proved so genial and informing a companion. 
No one can really love France or appreciate French scenery 
like a native. A close and accurate observer, Madame 

C , whilst perpetually increasing her own knowledge, 

was ever pointing out features I might otherwise have 
missed. Again, when she criticized, it was without the 
superciliousness of foreign observers. Meantime, the 
weather was perfect. Never had the Burgundian landscape 
looked richer or more glowing ; never were travellers more 
enticingly beckoned onward by vista after vista of vine- 
clad hills, sunlit valleys, and blue mountain range. 

The kind of freemasonry that binds professional bodies 
together exists among members of what is called in France 


le haut commerce, or more important commercial ranks. 
On arriving at our destination in Savoy I soon discovered 
this, and that, as I have said, however delightful French 
travel may be with a sympathetic English friend, native 
companionship introduces a novel and highly agreeable 
element. The mistresses of the Ecu d'Or and Lion Rouge 
now met for the first time, but their husbands had corre- 
sponded on business matters, their callings were identical, 
and general circumstances on a par. Children on both 
sides proved a further bond of union. Intercourse was 
straightway put on the footing of old acquaintanceship. 
As warm a welcome was extended to myself, and such 
friendliness amazingly transforms the atmosphere of a big 
hotel. Our hostess's husband being absent, her time was 
more taken up than usual, and the greater part of our 
own was spent abroad. We took our meals in the public 
dining-room, ordering what we wanted as any other tourists 
would have done, yet somehow we seemed and felt at 
home. And most instructive to me were the confabulations 
of the two ladies when leisure admitted of tea or coffee in 

Madame F 's cosy little bureau, or office and parlour 

combined. What most struck me about these prolonged 
chats was the sense of parental responsibility shown by 

these busy mothers. Madame C had three boys, 

Madame F a marriageable daughter, the group form- 
ing an inexhaustible topic. The various aptitudes and 
temperaments of each child, the future, after most careful 
deliberation, marked out for them, were discussed again 
and again. One remark my friend of the Ecu d'Or made 
about her two elder sons impressed me much, evincing, as 
it did, a painstaking study of character from the cradle 

" My husband and I had wished to set up Pierre and 
Frd6ric in business together," she said, " but we find as 
they grow older that natures so opposite as theirs would 
never harmonize. Some young people are improved by 


coming into contact with their antipodes, but the experi- 
ment would not answer with our boys. I have watched 
them both narrowly, and am convinced that they will be 
better apart." 

No less circumstantial was the patronne of the Lion 
Rouge regarding her eighteen-year-old Marie. 

As I listened I got no mere glimpse, but real insight 
into bourgeois ideals of the daughter, wife, mother, and 
very worthy ideals they were. Marie's education had been, 
first and foremost, practical. The practical element in a 
French lyce"e for girls is much more conspicuous than in 
our own high schools, and the lyce"e now has very largely 
supplemented the more restricted education of the convent 
school. Especially insisted upon in the curriculum are 
such subjects as book-keeping and domestic management, 
both highly important to a girl destined for active life. 
Trades as well as professions are often hereditary. Made- 
moiselle Marie had just returned from a year's stay in an 
English business house, and already took her turn at the 
desk. In due time she would replace the young lady 
caisstire, or clerk, and most probably marry a hotel-keeper. 

These maternal colloquies brought out more than one 
French characteristic very forcibly. In forecasting the 
future of their children, parents leave the least possible to 
chance. A happy-go-lucky system is undoubtedly better 
suited to the Anglo-Saxdn temperament. The more 
methodical French mind does not rebel against routine. 
Inherited prudence, an innate habit of reasoning, avert 
such conflicts as under the same circumstances would in- 
evitably occur among ourselves. 

After discussing sons and daughters, the two ladies 
would discuss their husbands, or rather take each other 
and myself into the happiest confidences. Madame 

C , I knew well, owned a partner in every way worthy 

of her; the same good fortune had evidently fallen to 
Madame F 's share. Hard were it to say which of the 


two waxed the more enthusiastic on the topic. Senti- 
mentality is foreign to the national character, but these 
matrons, mothers of youths and maidens, now became 
tearfully eloquent. Glad indeed I felt that the master of 
the Lion Rouge remained absent. The excellent man in 
person must have proved a disillusion have fallen some- 
what short of his wife's description ! 

Many other suggestive conversations I heard in that 
little parlour, but I must now relate by far the most in- 
teresting particular of this journey the incident, in fact, 
which made it worth narrating. 

Like Falstaff, I ever when possible take my ease at 
mine inn. Madame of the Ecu d'Or had mentioned this 
little weakness to Madame of the Lion Rouge, and ac- 
cordingly the best rooms on the first floor were assigned 
to us, the choicest wines served. During our several days' 
stay we enjoyed not only the cordiality of acquaintance- 
ship, but all the comfort and luxury the hotel could afford. 
What was my dismay, on applying for our bill, to learn 
that none was forthcoming ! Quite useless for me to 

expostulate ! Monsieur C and Monsieur F had 

transacted business together ; I was Madame C 's 

friend. Both of us had been received, and could only 
be received, on the footing of welcome guests and old 

Argument after argument I tried in vain. There re- 
mained nothing for me to do but accept such generous 
hospitality in the spirit with which it was accorded. To 
have acted otherwise would have in the last degree out- 
raged French susceptibilities. And afterwards, when 
asking my travelling companion how best to show my 
appreciation, her answer was characteristic. 

" Send an English book, one of your own novels, to 
Mademoiselle Marie ; on no account anything more costly, 
or it would look like payment in kind." Which advice I 


Nor was our journey in Dauphin^ without evidence 
of this freemasonry. The patronne of the Ecu d'Or seemed 
able to traverse France like the guest of Arab tribes, 
viceregally franked from place to place. As the sordid 
rather than the generous qualities of their compatriots are 
insisted upon by French novelists, such incidents are worth 
recording. On the whole, too, I am told on excellent 
authority that hotels-keepers in France, as a rule, do not 
make large fortunes. Their expenses are too great, and, 
excepting in large commercial centres and health resorts, 
their clientele is not rich enough to admit of high charges. 
Only by dint of incessant attention to business and rigid 
economy can the bourgeois ideal be obtained retirement, 
a suburban villa, and a garden. 

I here add that, apart from national cleverness and 
capacity, I think two circumstances greatly account for the 
success of commercial houses under feminine management. 
The first is the admirable clearness with which arithmetic 
is taught and the prominence given to book-keeping in 
girls' schools in France. The second is concentration of 
purpose, a single aim. The matron has in view her 
children and grandchildren ; the paid manageress her own 
independence. One and all have ever the future before 
them. They bend their undivided energies to the day's 
work, not for the sake of to-morrow's pleasure or relaxation, 
but of ultimate to-morrows, or aspirations inseparable from 
national character. Wealth beyond the dreams of avarice 
is not the dream of the French bourgeois ; instead, the 
modest existence assur/e, a life free from pecuniary anxiety, 
advancing years spent in solvent dignity and comfort. 



A GENERATION ago the education of French girls 
was far behind that of England and Germany. 
I have no hesitation to-day in affirming its 
superiority to both Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic systems. 

My convent-bred contemporaries in France, nay, younger 
women whose studies were but beginning when their own 
had long since ended, would treat their education as a 
subject of gentle irony. 

" What did I learn at the convent, you ask me ? " said 
one dear old friend to me some years since. "Absolutely 

And another convent-bred friend, the other's junior by 
thirty years, by this time a wife and mother, informed me 
that she was sedulously applying herself to the study of 

" Would you believe it ? " she said, smiling, " in my 
convent French history stopped short at the Revolution, 
for us it ended with the ancien regime ! " 

The convent school was simply a school of manners. 
With M. Turveydrop, the teachers' business was solely 
to polish, polish, polish. A little French literature, a 
little music, perhaps a little drawing, were thrown into 
the bargain. If pupils quitted the place ignorant as they 
had come, they at least acquired habits of self-possession, a 
faultless deportment, and scrupulous attention to minutiae 
of dress, speech, and behaviour. 



What must be regarded as a drawback to the lyc^e 
will be mentioned in its proper place. 

When M. Hanotaux's work on contemporary France 
attains the colophon, we shall be in a position to appraise 
the Third Republic as an intellectual force. No sooner 
was French soil rid of the invader, the army re-organized, 
the war indemnity had been paid into German coffers, 
and on September 16, 1873, the last detachment of 
Prussian troops saluted the tricolour on the frontier 
near Verdun, than reforms began in earnest. The re- 
organization of the army, the raising of the French 
colonial empire to the second in the world, financial, 
municipal, and legislative reforms, were worthily crowned 
by the great Educational Acts, or Ferry laws, of 1881 
and 1882. Popular education as projected by the 
Convention eighty years before now became a fact. 
Primary schools, lay, gratuitous, and obligatory, were 
opened in every commune throughout the country, and 
by the creation of the lyce"e for girls two rival camps were 
brought together ; in the noble words of Gambetta 
"French youths and maidens would henceforth be united 
by the intellect before being united by the heart." The 
reign of smatterings and polish, polish, polish was doomed. 

The lyc/e de filles has no counterpart in England. 
A foundation of the State, a dependence of the University 
of France, a body subsidized alike by the Government and 
by municipalities, every member of the various staffs is 
a civil servant. With not a few Frenchmen, we are apt to 
rail at such instances of centralization. The results are 
what we have to consider, and the inspection and study 
of a lycde will eradicate many prejudices. 

If a hard-and-fast rule of uniformity governs this 
administrative department as any other, if voluntaryism is 
rigidly excluded, it must be borne in mind what volun- 
taryism had cost the country before the Ferry laws. 
Until 1 88 1 both men and women could teach provided 


only with the so-called lettre d' obedience, or pastoral 
letter signed by the bishop no certificate whatever of 
competence, merely a testimony to good conduct and 
submission to clerical discipline. 

Under the stately aegis of the University of France, 
the French girl is protected from incapacity, favouritism, 
or misdirected patronage. The only title of admission to 
professional chair or to an inferior post is tried capacity. 
From the modestly paid surveillante, or supervisor of 
studies, to madame la directrice, or the lady principal, and 
certified lady teachers, the entire staff is responsible to the 
vice-recteur of the Academic de Paris. Here I may mention 
that there are sixteen academies in France, all affiliations 
of the university, the head of the university being the 
Minister of Public Instruction. 

By the courteous permission of the vice-recteur of the 
Sorbonne, I was lately not only enabled to see over the 
magnificent Lyce F^nelon in Paris, but to be present 
during several lessons. In this vast congeries of buildings, 
annexe after annexe having been added to the ancient 
Hotel de Rohan, five hundred and odd pupils from six to 
seventeen are accommodated with thirty agrtgtes that is 
to say, ladies who have passed the examinations obligatory 
on professors teaching in a lycee, or Faculty or school of 
art, science, or literature. 

Unlike the lycde for boys, that for girls is exclusively 
a day school. Pupils living at a distance can have a 
mid-day meal and afternoon collation on the premises, 
but the State holds itself responsible to parents no farther. 
Omnibuses do not collect the children and take them home 
as is the case with convent schools. A new experience 
was it to see little girls of twelve, or even younger, deposit 
their pass ticket with the porter and run home unattended 
as in England. 

I was assured that the habit is on the increase, and 
as many professional and middle-class families in Paris 


keep no servant, great must be the relief of this innovation 
to over-worked mothers. Indeed, the excessive supervision 
of children in France has ever, of course, been a matter of 
money and circumstances. 

An amiable young surveillante, or supervisor of studies 
and playground, etc., acted as my cicerone, explaining 
everything as we went along. Quitting the porter's lodge 
and large waiting-room, we entered the recreation ground, 
a fragment of the fine old garden in which contemporaries 
of Madame de Se"vign6 once disported themselves, now 
noisy with romping children. Class-rooms and refectories 
opened on to the gravelled spaces and shady walks, here 
and there lady professors taking a stroll between lesson 
and lesson. 

Ascending a wide staircase, relic of former magnificence, 
with elaborate iron hand-rail, we zigzag through the 
labyrinthine congeries of buildings, now looking into one 
class-room, now into another. In some of these, fine 
mouldings and ceilings remind us that we are in what 
was once a splendid mansion of the Renaissance. The 
sight of each room made me long to be a schoolgirl 
again. Instead of receiving stones for bread and thistles 
for figs, the use of the globes, Hangnail's questions, and 
the like, a mere simulacrum of instruction, how delightful 
to be taught by the competent, to be made to realize our 
great thinker's axiom knowledge is seeing ! 

In one class-room, or rather laboratory, a young lady 
professor was preparing her lesson on chemistry. Very 
business-like she looked in a long brown linen pinafore 
like a workman's blouse, as she moved to and fro, now 
fetching a retort, now some apparatus or substance for 
her demonstration. Great prominence is given to the 
study of elementary science in the lycee curriculum. 
Elsewhere we just glanced into a class-room where a 
second science mistress was lecturing on physics with 
practical illustrations. In yet a third room, a vase of 


freshly gathered wild flowers betokened a forthcoming 
lesson on botany. 

" Our pupils delight in their lessons on natural history," 
said my cicerone, as with natural pride she showed me 
the school museum, a small but comprehensive collection 
of stuffed animals, birds, and skeletons, scientifically classi- 
fied, and constantly enlarged by friends and scholars. 

One feature that more particularly interested me was 
a small room containing specimens of the pupils' work 
delicately adjusted scales and weights, thermometers, and 
other mechanical appliances made by little girls unassisted. 
Here indeed was a proof positive that with the young 
lyce'enne knowledge is seeing. About twenty-five girls 
form a class, those attending the French lesson I was 
permitted to hear being from eleven to thirteen. Very 
much alive looked most of these little maidens, all wearing 
the obligatory black stuff pinafore fastened round the 
waist, and having long sleeves, many with their hair 
dressed a la infanta of Velasquez that is to say, hanging 
loose, and knotted on one side with a ribbon ; not a few 
still in socks ! French girls, indeed, often go bare-legged 
and in socks till they are almost as tall as their mothers. 

Dictation and grammatical analysis are subjects naturally 
less attractive than chemical experiments or a lesson on 
field flowers. More than once the lady professor was 
obliged to call some laggard to order ; one, indeed, she 
sharply threatened with dismissal on account of inattention. 
But on the whole I should say the class was a very intelli- 
gent one, and two or three girls of eleven or twelve, called 
up for examination, showed a really remarkable mastery of 

An admirable English lesson, given by a thoroughly 
capable French lady, was another interesting experience. 
Of the twenty-five pupils, their ages being the same as those 
of the former class, about a third, not more, showed lively 
interest in the study. Two or three, indeed, made a not 


unsuccessful attempt to tell the story of Whittington and 
his cat in English ! One bright little girl of twelve seemed 
ahead of all the rest. On the disadvantage of employing 
French professors of modern languages in Lyce"es, both for 
boys and girls, there at first sight would seem to be but one 
opinion. No amount of erudition and experience can surely 
here atone for the sine qud non of fitness, namely, native 
idiom and accent, that vitality in language hardly less 
individual and racial a matter than physical idiosyncrasy. 

The exclusion of foreign professors from State schools 
became law after the Franco-Prussian war, the measure 
being solely directed against Germans. At the present 
time I believe the measure is partly protective, in the 
interest of the excessive number of native teachers, and 
partly pedagogic, viz. in the interest of the scholars. And 
as a French friend writes on the subject " It is my firm 
conviction that foreign professors should never be employed 
unless they can speak French fluently and without accent. 
Otherwise they are not respected by their pupils, and fail to 
exercise the desired authority." 

Where, indeed, would these be found ? Is it not for 
a similar reason that English professors of French and 
German are engaged for our own public schools ? What 
seems at the onset a defect may therefore be a necessity. 

The immense importance attached to the teaching of 
science more than compensates for any linguistic draw- 
backs. The French mind is naturally acquisitive and 
logical, instruction here so directly appeals to natural 
aptitude, that great things may be expected from the future. 
Already we find Frenchwomen coming to the fore in 
scientific discovery, law, medicine, and literature. The 
lyce"e fosters inclination for studies hitherto considered the 
province of the other sex. In the programme before me 
I find that students of the second division, i.e. girls from 
twelve to seventeen, are taught the following subjects, two 
or three being optional, and the complete course occupying 


five years : La morale, moral science, general history, 
German or English (in departments bordering on Spain 
and Italy, Spanish and Italian replace these), domestic 
economy and hygiene, common law, natural history, physics, 
chemistry, geometry, and the elements of algebra. French 
language and literature, drawing, solfeggio, with gymnastics, 
needlework including cutting out, are added ; also a dancing- 
class and practical lessons in cookery, these being an extra 
charge. In the preparatory class, i.e. for girls from six to 
twelve, the fees amount to 200 francs, just 8 a year, with 
an extra charge of 6 for pupils preparing their lessons 
under the supervision of a rfytfitrice, or under-teacher ; in 
the second division the charges are from 10 to 12, the 
same sum as in the first being charged for what is called 
the external surveiltt. 

Before quitting the Lyce Fenelon I sent in my card to 
madame la directrice, who received me most cordially, say- 
ing that, with the permission of M. le Vice-Recteur, she 
should at any time cordially welcome myself or friends. I 
mention this fact to show how the principle of authority is 
insisted upon in every administrative department of France. 

" Take but degree away, untune that string, 
And hark ! what discord follows ! Each thing meets 
In mere oppugnancy." 

In these words we have the key of that centralization 
so incomprehensible to ourselves, but which works so satis- 
factorily in France. The vast administrative machine 
moves apparently by itself, unhinged by outward events 
however disturbing. 

A boarding-house at St. Mand6, within half an hour's 
distance from the lyce, was opened in 1903. Here bath- 
rooms, tennis court, croquet ground, and other modernities 
are offered on moderate terms. 

As I was unable to visit this establishment, I will give 
some particulars of a boarding-house for girl-students at 
Toulouse visited some years since. 


I arrived, unfortunately, during the long vacation, but a 
young lady teacher in residence kindly showed me over the 
house, or rather block of buildings, standing amid pleasant 
wooded grounds. Although we were as yet only midway 
through September, from attic to basement every corner 
was spick and span. In the vast dormitory of the upper 
school, I was, alas ! reminded of the lycee for boys. Here 
were no less than thirty compartments or cubicles contain- 
ing bed and toilet requisites, whilst at the upper end of the 
room, commanding a view of the entire length, was the bed 
of the surveillante, or under-mistress. Sleeping or waking, 
the lyce"enne, like the lyceen, was here under perpetual 
supervision. In other respects the arrangements seemed 

The lyce of Toulouse, like those of other provincial 
cities, is a dependance of the State, the department, and the 
municipality. Thus, whilst the programme of studies is 
drawn up by the M. le Recteur of the Toulouse Acade'mie, 
the boarding-house just described is authorized by the 
town council, and the prospectus is signed by the mayor. 
Every detail, therefore, alike scholastic and economic, must 
receive the sanction of these respective authorities. How 
deep is the interest in secondary education the following 
citation will demonstrate : " At a sitting of the Conseil 
Municipal of December 29, 1887" I quote from the pro- 
spectus of the boarding-house " it was decided that a 
graduated reduction should be made for two, three, or 
four sisters, a fifth being received entirely free of charge." 
It would be interesting to learn how often this generous 
privilege has been enjoyed. 

The charges both for school and boarding-house are 
about a third cheaper in the provinces than in Paris. The 
curriculum embraces the same subjects with occasional 
deviations. Thus, at Toulouse, on account of geographical 
position, Spanish may supplant German or English. Re- 
ligious teaching in every lyce is left entirely to parents. 



WE are all familiar with the advertisements of 
schoolmasters and private tutors undertaking 
to control and amend idle or unruly lads. 
Incorrigible ne'er-do-wells of our own upper classes are 
summarily packed off to the colonies. Very different are 
French methods. The Code Civil, based on Roman law, 
places drastic measures within reach of French parents 
and guardians, and a brief account of the system pursued 
in dealing with rich prodigals over the water will not, 
perhaps, prove without interest. It is now many years 
since I visited the great agricultural and industrial refor- 
matory, or colonie, as the place is euphemistically called, 
of Mettray, near Tours. 

A little removed from the vast congeries of dwellings, 
workshops, and farm buildings stood a pretty Swiss chdlet. 
This, our guide informed my fellow-traveller and myself, 
was the Maison Paternelle, another euphemism for what 
was in reality a refined sort of prison. Thither, we learned, 
incorrigibly idle or vicious lads of the better classes were 
sent for terms varying from one to six months, and kept 
in strict confinement. 

We were obligingly allowed to inspect the house, which 
outside looked quite attractive, and within was what might 
be called a gilded cage, a genteel prison ; once the key 
turned upon a captive, he was here as completely embastiltt 



as in the Bastille itself ! The cells varied in size, furniture, 
aspect and decoration, carpets, curtains, a pretty view, and 
other luxuries adorning those of what, for want of an 
exact term, I will call first-class misdemeanants. But one 
feature characterized all. In the door of each cell was 
a pane of glass admitting of perpetual espial. Like Cain 
in Victor Hugo's fine poem, the prisoner was ever followed 
by an inquisitional eye. 

The key and the peep-hole somewhat discounted our 
cicerone's glowing appreciation of the Maison Paternelle 
as a reforming medium. We refrained, however, from 
criticism till breakfasting with M. Demetz, the founder of 
Mettray, and the originator of the Maison Paternelle. We 
had reached the colonie soon after eight o'clock in the 
morning, and M. Demetz, who lived in the midst of his 
children, as he called the outcasts and prodigals, break- 
fasted at the early hour of ten. In a simple yet elegant 
home, a charming hostess in the person of the Countess, 
our host's daughter, and, unnecessary to add, a dtjetmer of 
many courses, all perfectly cooked, awaited us. 

One saw at a glance that M. Demetz was a born 
apostle of humanity ; also that, although devoting himself 
to the humblest and least admirable of his kind, he had 
consorted with choicest spirits. 

Past middle age, refined in feature, of exquisite urbanity, 
his face lighted up with rare enthusiasm when on the topic 
of his Maison Paternelle. Eloquent as he became, neither 
my friend, who was also a philanthropist and educationalist, 
nor myself were won over to the peephole and the key. 
We quitted Mettray smiling at what we deemed a good 
man's hobby. 

We were wrong. The excellent M. Demetz has long 
since gone to his rest, my travelling companion, Madame 
Bodichon, the gifted foundress of Girton, has followed him 
to the grave. The Maison Paternelle, founded forty-eight 
years ago, not only exists, but has more than justified the 


confidence of its projector. The tiny Swiss chdlet is now 
replaced by a commodious house, fitted up with all modern 
requirements, and having accommodation for upwards of 
fifty inmates. What was formerly a tentative, a modest 
enterprise is now an important organization, managed by 
a board of directors, and having a staff of university pro- 
fessors. During the year 1900 no less than forty-six youths 
of wealthy parents were consigned to Mettray for shorter 
or longer periods by their parents and guardians. Methods 
have not changed with conditions. The system pursued 
by M. Demetz in dealing with idle or ill-conducted youths 
is still rigidly adhered to, its efficacy being borne out by 

For an understanding of French institutions we must 
familiarize ourselves with the Code Civil. Here are the 
clauses by virtue of which parents can thus sequestrate 
their children 

"Art. 375. A father having very serious grounds for 
dissatisfaction concerning the conduct of his child, has at 
command the following means of correction. 

"Art. 375. If the child is under sixteen, a father can 
have him put in confinement for a period not exceeding 
one month, and the President of the Tribunal of his arron- 
dissement will, at his demand, deliver an order of arrest. 

"Art. 377. From his sixteenth year until attaining his 
majority, a child may be imprisoned for a period not ex- 
ceeding six months ; his father must apply to the President 
of the Tribunal, who, after conferring with the Procureur 
of the Republic, will either deliver or refuse an order of 
arrest, and in the first case can shorten the period of 

"Art. 378. In neither case is there any judicial formality 
or written document necessary beyond that of the order of 
arrest, and a declaration of the reasons thereof. A father 
is obliged to pay all expenses of his son's food, or any 
other expense attached to his confinement." 


These conditions must be strictly complied with by 
parents sending their sons to the Maison Paternelle ; but, 
as the President's order for incarceration, the only document 
necessitated by the proceedings, is burnt after each inmate's 
departure, no unpleasant reminder can be brought against 
him. His name does not figure on the criminal list. M. 
Demetz's idea was, therefore, an ingenious application of 
the above articles of the Code Civil, and the reports* in 
my hands bear ample testimony to its success. 

Before giving citations from these most curious reports, 
it is necessary to describe M. Demetz* methods. 

The keynote of his system is based upon the reflective 
character of the French nation. "We reason more than 
we imagine," writes the first living philosopher of France,! 
" and what we imagine best is not the world of exteriors, 
but the inner world of sentiment, and, above all, of thought." 

An unremitting appeal to the reasoning faculty, per- 
suasion, kindness, and solitude such are the influences 
brought to bear upon insubordination, indolence, and 
vicious habits. 

From the moment of arrival to that of departure, an 
inmate of the Maison Paternelle sees no one but his 
attendant (the word gardien being substituted for that of 
gedlier], his professors, the chaplain, and the director. So 
complete is the isolation of each prisoner that two brothers, 
confined at the same time, have from first to last remained 
in ignorance of each other's presence. Inmates are known 
to the household staff by numbers only. The director 
alone knows each by name. 

It was M. Demetz' opinion that a habit of reasoning 
is induced by solitude. Hence his insistence on this point. 

* "Maison Paternelle," Compte-rendu Triennal, 1898: Tours. Ibid., 
Rapport Triennal, 1901 : Tours. 

t " Nous raisonnons plus que nous n'imaginons, et ce que nous imaginons 
le mieux, ce n'est pas le monde exterieur c'est le monde interne des sentimens. 
et surtout des pensees " (" Psychologic du Peuple Fran9ais," par A. Fouillee). 

It must be borne in mind that the Maison Paternelle 
is essentially an educational establishment. Incorrigible 
idleness seems to be the principal cause of incarceration, 
and one interesting fact testifies to M. Demetz' perspicacity 
as a psychologist. " Whilst success has not always crowned 
our efforts in cases of moral perversity," writes the director 
in his last report, "from an intellectual point of view 
we have never failed." In other words, reflection has 
proved an apt monitor, where the head rather than the 
heart has been at fault. Of twenty- six students going up 
in 1892, 1893, and 1894, eighteen passed their examination 
of baccalaurtat. A new-comer is straightway conducted to 
one of the smallest and barest cells. If he becomes violent 
or despairing, efforts are made to soothe and encourage him ; 
he is told that no constraint will be put upon his inclina- 
tion, but that as soon as he wishes to set to work professors 
are at hand, who desire nothing better than to forward his 
progress. When reflection brings a better mind, his cell 
is changed for one more cheerful and comfortable, his 
improvement is furthered to the utmost by those about 
him, exceptionally good conduct and extra diligence are 
rewarded by excursions in the neighbourhood, and even 
visits to the historic chateaux of Touraine. In addition to 
the usual programme of studies, the youthful prisoner 
receives religious instruction and lessons in gymnastics, 
swimming, fencing, riding, and music. Every fortnight 
reports of health and progress are sent to parents and 

The expenses of such an establishment are necessarily 
high, only professors of very special attainments being 
employed, and the number of pupils varying from year to 
year. An attendant, or gardien, moreover, is attached to 
each youth, this person's business being to accompany him 
in his walks, supervise his conduct generally, and serve 
his meals. Under the circumstances the following fees 
will not seem excessive: An entrance fee of 100 francs 


(4), 250 francs per month is paid for inmates preparing 
for elementary examinations, and 300 for those aspiring 
to the baccalaurfat. A sum of 500 francs on account 
must be paid on entry of a pupil. English and German 
or any other foreign language, music, drawing, and 
dancing are extras ; also books, stationery, and drawing- 
materials are charged for. No uniform is worn by in- 
mates. Smoking is strictly forbidden, also the possession 
of money. Each inmate walks out for an hour a day, a 
payment of half a franc daily entitles him to a second 
hour's walk. This charge helps to defray the salary of 
an attendant. 

On the eve of his discharge, the penitent prodigal is 
taken into the cellule de rtint/gration, i.e. the prison- 
like cell of refractory inmates ; he there signs a solemn 
promise to refrain from evil or idle courses in the future. 
The cellule de re'inte'gration serves as a reminder that, 
if a second time he is consigned to the Maison Paternelle, 
he must expect severer treatment than before. 

As might naturally be expected the majority of youth- 
ful ne'er-do-wells in France, incorrigibly lazy, and the 
loafers are sons of widows. Children as a rule are 
mercilessly the word is fit spoiled in France, and 
especially is to be pitied the fatherless lad, the " lord of 
himself, that heritage of woe." One mother thus wrote 
to the director of Mettray : " I see but too well, mon- 
sieur, that my own weakness has caused all the mis- 
chief, and that I deserve to occupy a cell as well as 
my son. I beseech you, come to my aid, help me to 
recover that authority I have allowed to be set at 

I will now give some brief extracts from the reports 
before named ; also from a paper on the subject contributed 
to the Journal des Dtbats* 

* " Mettray : La Maison Paternelle," par H. Alis. Tours : Imprimerie 


Here is the letter of a fiery youth to his father on 
learning of the paternal intentions 


" It has just come to my knowledge that you 
intend to shut me up in a house of detention, in order that 
willy nilly I pursue my studies. Take note of this. Before 
Heaven I swear never to touch a pen for the purpose of 
work, never to open a book with similar intention, so long 
as I remain a prisoner. However hard to bear may prove 
incarceration, no matter to what indignities or punishments 
I am subjected, my mind is made up, my will is indomitable. 
I have already acquired quite enough for the fulfilment of 
an honourable career. I am, forsooth, to be imprisoned, 
dishonoured ? We shall see the result." 

Six months later the young man thus addressed the 


" On the eve of quitting the Maison Paternelle, 
I cannot help sending you a few lines expressive of my 

" It is owing to you, monsieur, and to my professors 
here, that I have now completed my studies, having learned 
more in six months under this roof than I should have 
done in two years elsewhere. 

" Rest assured, monsieur, that I carry away with me 
the best possible remembrance of the Maison Paternelle ; 
no apter name could be given to this house. Here I have 
learned unfortunately, for the first time in my life to 
reflect. I have been taught to see the serious side of life 
and my obligations as a social being. Thus I am deeply 
grateful for all the care bestowed upon me, and the interest 
taken in my progress by the professors. This is no adieu, 
merely an assurance of my esteem and gratitude." 


Another impetuous youth immediately after incarcera- 
tion writes as follows to the director : 


"If I should say that I intend to work here 
and atone for the faults of which I am accused, I should 
tell a lie, and lying I detest. 

" I will then tell you the truth, which is, that if I am 
not sent home within six days I will destroy myself. Know, 
monsieur, that I am capable of anything." 

The above is dated May 18, 1887. The following 
bears date August 13 of the same year : 


"Three months have now elapsed since I 
became an inmate of the Maison Paternelle, and I do not 
know in what terms to express my sense of indebtedness 
to you and of all the advantage I have gained by my stay. 

" Forget, I entreat you, Monsieur le Directeur, my first 
letter. Rest assured that I bitterly regret having penned 
it. As for myself, I shall never forget what I owe you. 
You have made me a wholly different being. I am very 
sorry that you are away just as I am leaving ; but if I fail 
in my examination I promise to come back." 

The following, dated April 26, 1887, from another 
inmate, is more curious still : 


" Notwithstanding the proposals of my parents 
and their wish to see me go back to college, and having 
well considered the matter and reflected on my past career 
as a student, I have decided to pass the three months 
before going up for my examination at Mettray, the 
only place in which I have really made good use of my 


time. I trust that no objection will be made to my return, 
and beg for the favour of an early reply. 

" Pray give my grateful remembrances to my professors 
and the chaplain. 

" Yours, etc." 

I cannot refrain from a few more citations. 

P. D. G. writes to the director in 1898, "Would you 
kindly send me some photographs of the colonie and the 
Maison Paternelle (three francs enclosed for the same), 
especially of the interior, in which last year, alas ! I spent 
four months, quitting it, thank God, a reformed being. 
These photographs will remind me of a place once in- 
wardly cursed by me, but now a source of self-congratulation, 
since to Mettray I owe my bettered self." 

A grateful father thus expresses himself : " I am 
happy to inform you, Monsieur le Directeur, that after 
quitting the Maison Paternelle our Rend passed three 
months in Germany, returning with a considerable know- 
ledge of German (un bagage s/rieux d'allemand). He now 
attends the Lyc6e Jeanson, and is first of thirty-seven in 
the fourth class. Thus you see that I have every reason 
to be thankful for the pains taken with my son whilst in 
your hands." 

Many " old boys " send donations towards improve- 
ments of the " Paternelle" as they affectionately call their 
former prison, and one showed his attachment to the place 
by visiting it in later years accompanied by his wife ! 

It would seem as if idleness and its corrective, the 
faculty of reflection, were in part hereditary. In any case 
the son of a whilom inmate was placed in the Maison 
Paternelle by his father. 

No less interesting than the letters just cited, selections 
from a vast number, are the monographs or character 
sketches drawn up by M. Gilbert, PreTet des Etudes. A 
perusal of these carefully drawn-up human documents 


suggest the inquiry, How far might the individualizing of 
criminals work out reform ? 

A distracted father begged the director to receive his 
son, a lad who had been expelled from college after college, 
and who had proved refractory alike to threats and 

Here is the youth's description from a psychological 
point of view : " He belonged to that class of pupils who 
delight in nothing so much as preventing others from work 
and upsetting order in a class-room. Intelligent, but idle 
and trifling, our new inmate, on arriving, decided merely 
to annoy his father on preparing for the mercantile 
instead of the classical baccalaur/at. The mere notion 
that such a decision displeased his parents and professors 
was enough for him ; one severe reprimand and a punish- 
ment relatively severe had no effect whatever. So long 
as he had his way he would be satisfied. 

n But we must carefully analyze such natures, in order to 
deal with them efficaciously. Idleness and a propensity to 
trifling were this lad's chief faults. Before finally making 
up our minds that he should be humoured, we set him to 
work on preparations for the classical degree. At first all 
went well, his progress surprised even himself. On a 
sudden he declared his intention of seeking a fortune in 
the colonies. Of what good, therefore, to waste his time 
over Latin and Greek ? Again he lapsed into idleness and 
inertia. The effect of a course of punishments was as that 
of a douche upon an enervated system. ' Such treatment 
was exactly what I needed,' he owned ; and, strange to say 
who would believe the fact without personal experience ? 
from that moment he worked strenuously, and became 
attached to his professors. In the end he made up his 
mind to present himself as a candidate for the baccalaurtat 
of science and letters, and to the joy and infinite amaze- 
ment of his parents passed the examination." 

The young man for by this time he might be so called 


thus wrote to the director : " For the first time in my life 
I am quite happy, because, for the first time also, I have 
made my parents happy. Since passing my examination 
I am treated so differently. I am almost afraid that my 
head will be thereby turned ! " 

Many other instances of successful treatment might be 
adduced, not only disinclination to work, but vicious habits, 
dissipation, addiction to bad company, gambling, and other 
vices having yielded to M. Demetz' methods. I will now, 
however, say a few words about the resource of less wealthy 
parents, another and very different place of detention to 
which minors can be consigned by virtue of Articles 375, 
376, 377, and 378 of the Code Civil. This is Citeaux, near 
Nuits, in the C6te d'Or, an agricultural and industrial 
penitentiary which, at the time of my visit some years ago, 
although a State establishment, was entirely controlled by 
priests. This, I believe, is now changed. 

At Citeaux there is no separate organization for youths 
of the middle ranks. Twenty pounds a year only is the 
sum charged for board and lodging, and these paying 
inmates fare precisely the same as youthful vagrants or 
first offenders, but are not set to field work. 

On the occasion of my visit, a hundred of the thousand 
inmates were middle-class boys with whom their parents could 
do nothing. And here, as at Mettray, a large percentage 
of these young good-for-nothings were sons of widows ! 

My driver, who was in the habit of conducting visitors 
to the colonie, as Citeaux is also called, told me that he 
had lately taken thither a widow lady with her son, a youth 
of seventeen ; also another widowed mother with an unruly 
lad somewhat younger. The mother of the first-named 
incorrigible declared it her intention to keep him in the 
reformatory till he should become of age, unless he turned 
over a completely new leaf. My conductor further informed 
me that he was employed in the printing press, and looked 
miserable enough. 


It is hardly to be expected that results at Citeaux 
would bear comparison with those of Mettray. In the 
former place a lad can have no individual treatment ; in 
the latter, he is in the hands of experienced specialists in 
fact, he is a case, diagnosed and treated according to the 
most advanced theories of moral and mental science. The 
subject awakens much speculation. 




LEGISTS cannot with any certitude determine the 
origin of that extra-legal tribunal in France, known 
as the Conseilde Famille, a domestic court of justice 
accessible alike to rich and poor and at nominal cost, 
occupying itself with questions the most momentous as 
well as the minutest, vigilantly guarding the interests of 
imbecile and orphan, outside the law, yet by the law 
rendered authoritative and binding. From the Middle 
Ages down to our own time, noble and roturier, wealthy 
merchant and small shopkeeper, have taken part in these 
conclaves, the exercise of such a function being regarded 
both as a civic duty and moral obligation. One object and 
one only is kept in view, namely, the protection of the weak. 
The law is stript of its cumbrous machinery, above all, 
deprived of its mercenary spirit. Not a loophole is left 
for underhand dealing or peculation. Simplicity itself, 
this system has been so nicely devised and framed that 
interested motive finds no place in it. Questions of property 
form the chief subject of inquiry and debate, yet so hedged 
round by precautions is the fortune of minor or incapaci- 
tated that it incurs little or no risk. And in no other 
institution is witnessed to the same extent the uncom- 
promising nature of French economy. Justice here rendered 
is all but gratuitous. 

According to the best authorities, this elaborate code of 



domestic legislation is the development of mediaeval or 
even earlier customs. Under the name of Vavis de parents, 
we find family councils alike in those provinces having their 
own legal systems, or coutumes, and those strictly adhering 
to Roman law. By little and little such usages were 
formalized, and so gradually becoming obligatory, in the 
fact, if not in the letter, were regarded as law. The extra- 
legal character of the family council is one of its most 
curious features. 

Among the oldest documents referring to the subject is 
an edict of the fifteenth century, signed by Rene", father of 
Margaret of Anjou. The presiding judge is herein for- 
bidden to appoint any guardianship till he has heard the 
testimony of three syndics, as well as of the child's relations, 
concerning the trustees proposed, their circumstances, 
position in life, and reputation. The syndics, be it re- 
marked, were rural and municipal functionaries, replaced 
in 1789 by State-paid juges de paix. Intermediaries be- 
tween the law and the people, the syndics were elected by 
vote, their term of office generally lasting a year. 

The coutumes of Brittany and Normandy took especial 
care to define and regulate the family council. Thus an 
edict of 1673 ordains that six relations on the paternal, and 
as many on the maternal, side of any orphan or orphans, 
shall assist the judge in selecting trustees. A clause of 
the Breton Code enjoined that consultation should be held 
as to the education of the minors in question, "the pro- 
fession, whether of arms, letters, or otherwise, for which 
they should be trained, the same to be decided according 
to their means and position." 

In the Nivernais, the family council consisted of seven 
members ; in the Berri, of six ; in the Orteannais, of five. 
The Parliament of Bordeaux in 1700 fixed the number at 
six, as in the Berri. 

These facts show the importance attached to the func- 
tion before the Revolution. Up to that period it was an 


elastic system based upon usage and tradition rather than 
law; the family council now underwent minute and elaborate 
revision at the hands of successive bodies of legists ; finally 
embodied in the Code NapoUon, it has undergone little 
modification to our own day. 

One of the most curious documents in this history is 
the rescript drawn up by Napoleon III. and his ministers 
at the Palace of St. Cloud, June, 1853. Following the 
statutes regulating the position of all members of the 
Napoleonic House, we have here the Imperial Family 
Council, as permanently and finally organized. The 
Emperor decided its constitution beforehand, once and for 
all. In other ranks of life such an assembly is called 
together when occasion requires. 

" The Conseil de Famille" runs the ordonnance, " shall 
be presided over by the Emperor in person, or some repre- 
sentative of his choosing ; its members will consist of a 
Prince of the Imperial family also chosen by the Emperor, 
of the Minister of State, the Minister of Justice, the Presi- 
dents of the Senate, the Legislative Body, and the Council 
of State, the first President of the Court of Cassation, of a 
Marshal of France or General of Division named by the 

As we proceed in this inquiry, we see how utterly at 
variance are autocratic principles with the real spirit of this 
domestic legislation. A body thus framed was a mere 
vehmgericht, not dealing certainly with life and death, but 
with personal liberty and fundamental rights of the indi- 
vidual. Thus this Imperial assembly could declare any 
member of the family incapable of managing his affairs in 
other words, shut him up as a lunatic. All the powers 
vested in the Conseil de Famille were in this case without 
a single guarantee to the individual whose interests were 

The origin of this truly patriarchal system is doubtless 
twofold. Although not directly traceable to Roman law, 


the family council must be considered as partly an out- 
growth of that source. In certain cases legal decisions 
concerning the property or education of minors in ancient 
Rome were guided or modified by the advice of near 
relations. But there was no obligation on the part of the 
magistrate; his decision was final. 

On the other hand, the spirit of the domestic conclave 
is eminently Gallic. r We find the same spirit animating 
French life at the present day. In France, " the family " 
does not only mean the group of father, mother, and children 
who gather round a common board. La Famille rather 
conveys the notion of a clan, the members of which are 
often settled within easy reach of each other, their entire 
lives spent, not merely as kinsfolk, but as neighbours. To 
realize this aspect of French society we must live in the 

" The entire system under consideration," writes a 
French lawyer to me, "is based upon the bonds which 
unite, or ought to unite, the members of a family. It is a 
development, and not one of the least happy, of the patri- 
archal spirit. Its general tendency is excellent, and the 
rules framed for practical use are admirably drawn up and 
adjusted. Further, this legislation is in perfect harmony 
with our national character and our theories concerning 
children generally. We love children, perhaps, too well, 
since so often we spoil them by excess of tenderness." 
Regard for the welfare of children and of property under- 
lies the constitution of the Conseil de Famille ; the same 
motives, therefore, that actuate minds in the present day 
were uppermost centuries ago. 


The family council may be described as the guardian of 
guardians. It is an assemblage of next-of-kin, or in default 
of these, of friends, presided over by a justice of the peace, 


called together on behalf of orphans, of mentally incapaci- 
tated or incorrigible minors (see Art. 388 and 487 of the 
Code Civil). It is composed of six members exclusive of 
the/agtf de paix, namely, three next of kin on the paternal 
and three on the maternal side ; in default of these their 
place may be filled by friends. Natural children, according 
to the law have no relations ; in their case, friends or 
relations of the father acknowledging them, are eligible. 
No one who has forfeited civil rights by imprisonment can 
form part of the council ; members must be of age, and 
where two are equally fit, the elder is selected in preference 
to the younger. 

Here follow some clauses that strongly bring out the 
Napoleonic distrust and contempt of women. From end 
to end of the Code Civil we discern this spirit. The woman, 
the wife, the mother, is relegated to the status of minor, 
imbecile, or criminal. Thus, no married woman can join 
a Conseil de Famille except the mother or grandmother of 
the ward whose interests are in question ; the same rules 
hold good with regard to guardianship. 

Friends taking the place of kinsfolk are always named 
by the juge de paix, and cannot be accepted simply from 
the fact of offering themselves. 

Unnaturalized foreigners, or French people who have 
accepted another nationality, are ineligible for the family 
tribunal. Nor can those take part in the deliberations who 
at any time have had a lawsuit with parents of the minor 
in question. 

So much for the constitution of the family council. We 
will now proceed to its formalities. Here it is necessary to 
say a word about the juge de paix, whose name occupies a 
prominent place in this history. "French law," writes a 
legist in his commentary on the Conseil de Famille, " con- 
stitutes the/wg? de paix natural protector of the minor." 

The family council is convoked by the juge de paix on 
his own account or at the request of friends or relations of 


the minor ; summonses to attend may be sent out in two 
forms, either by a simple notice or by a ctdule or obligatory 
request. In the former case, attendance is optional ; in the 
latter, refusal without valid excuse exposes the offender to 
a fine of fifty francs. But what is a valid excuse ? " Acci- 
dent, sickness, absence," writes a commentator. In fact, 
any obstacle which thejuge depaix holds insuperable. With 
him rests the responsibility of the fine, also the composition 
of the council, and here may be noted one of the extra- 
ordinary precautions taken. As the rural magistrate is 
supposed to know his neighbours, deliberations must take 
place within his especial jurisdiction. No minor's affairs 
can be settled except under presidency of thejuge de paix 
of his or her district. Again, the sittings take place at the 
official residence, and in case of differences of opinion the 
juge de paix'vs entitled to the casting vote, another instance 
of his importance. Again, he must be no mean interpreter 
of the law. All kinds of knotty questions and legal niceties 
are brought out at these family conclaves. 

Thus, upon certain occasions, the point has been raised 
Can a Conseil de Famille be held on a Sunday or religious 
festival ? Lawyers have been much exercised upon this 
point, no trivial one to rural magistrates. In country places 
important events are almost invariably put off till the rest- 
ing day, and, as a rule, the matter has been decided in the 

Here we light upon a curious piece of Revolutionary 
legislation. A commentator on the question of Sunday 
family councils cites the law of 17 Thermidor, An. VI., 
according to which all State offices and public bodies 
vaquent les dtcadis jours de fetes nationales. 

The sittings are considered private, and no publicity is 
given to the subjects under debate. Occasionally some 
member of the minor's family not taking part in the council 
may be present. The greffier, or clerk of the juge de paix, 
is also in attendance, but no one else. 


The non-responsibility of members summoned to de- 
liberate is strictly recognized by law ; for instance, if a 
properly constituted family council has decided upon in- 
vestments which ultimately prove disastrous, neither indi- 
vidually nor collectively are they held responsible. If, 
however, on the other hand, connivance with intention to 
defraud is proved, they are proceeded against in the ordinary 

The legal expenses attendant upon this domestic legis- 
lation are restricted to the minimum. Minutes are regis- 
tered by the juge de paix at a cost of from one to ten or 
fifteen francs ; certain important transactions require a fee 
of fifty francs. 

There remains one more point to be noted under the 
head of constitution of a Conseil de Famille. I allude to 
what in French legal phraseology is called "homologation" 
in other words, the formal legalization of any decision arrived 
at by this body. Certain verdicts require this to be rendered 
valid and binding, others do not. Among the first are 
those relating to the sale or transference of a minor's estate, 
to the dismissal of a minor's guardian, to the dowry and 
marriage contract of son or daughter of any one deprived 
of civil rights. The nomination of trustees, the refusal or 
acceptance of legacies, the details of guardianship generally, 
i.e. education, bringing up of wards, and many other 
measures, do not require this process of homologation ; they 
are valid and binding without formal legalization. 


The family council, in its care of the fatherless child, is 
anticipatory. Thus we find a special provision of the code. 
The Code Civil makes special provision for a man's post- 
humous offspring. No sooner does he die leaving a widow 
enceinte than it is her duty to summon a family council for 
the purpose of choosing what in legal phraseology is called 


a curateur d Fenfant a nattre, or a curateur au -venire. 
Duly elected, this guardian is authorized to undertake the 
entire management of her late husband's property, render- 
ing a full account of his stewardship on the birth of the 
child. This trusteeship of children as yet unborn awakens 
mixed feelings. Without doubt cases in which the head of 
a family has left no directions of the kind, may necessitate 
such precautions. At the same time do we not trace clearly 
here the subordination of women as derived from Roman 
law ? " We must acknowledge," writes a learned commen- 
tator,* " that the curateur d Fenfant a naitre is named solely 
in the interest of a man's heirs, a result, as pointed out else- 
where, due to an adhesion to Roman law ; Article 393 has 
crept into our code probably without due weighing of con- 
sequences on the part of the legislator." The cumteur's 
duty is also to verify the condition of the wife dans la 
mesure des convenances, also the birth of a legitimate child. 
When we reflect that the legal heirs of a defunct person 
are his next of kin, we can easily understand the offensive- 
ness of this law to an honourable, delicate-minded woman ; 
at the same time we are bound to admit that such pre- 
cautionary measures would in our own country prevent the 
scandal of a "Baby claimant." French law, sometimes 
for good, certainly sometimes for evil, interferes with private 
life much more than in England. 

When we come to the subject of minors and orphans, 
we appreciate the enormous power vested in the family 
council. The appointment of trustees and guardians, when 
not made by parents, rests entirely with this assemblage ; f 
also in its hands is a power requiring more delicate handling 
still, namely, the withdrawal of paternal authority. Here 

* M. J.-L. Jay, "Conseils de Famille." 

t When the last surviving parent has failed to appoint trustees and 
guardians, the duty devolves upon paternal or maternal grandfathers ; grand- 
mothers are ineligible. This is the Tutelle Itgale, the Tutelle dative being that 
appointed by the family council. 


we meet with points recalling the Society for the Protection 
of Children, founded some years ago by the Rev. Benjamin 
Waugh. As will be seen, however, the family council 
holds entirely aloof from criminal cases, concerning itself 
with civil affairs only, first and foremost with the disposition 
of property. " From the earliest time," writes a learned 
commentator, " minors have been regarded (by French law) 
as privileged beings, placed under the protection of society 

French legists have doubtless done their best for the 
foundling, the illegitimate, the disowned. Especially within 
recent times has the lot of these waifs and strays been 
ameliorated by the law. Terrible was their condition 
formerly as revealed in early records, also in statutes and 
legal commentaries. During the Middle Ages, when, ac- 
cording to a French writer, " Roman law fully exercised its 
disastrous influence, foundlings were deposited at church 
doors, sex and age of each child were inscribed in a book 
called the ' Matricule ' (Lat. matricula), they were reared in 
convent or nunnery, and, when sufficiently grown, sold by 
auction. These wretched little beings were chiefly offered 
for sale in the large cities and purchased by the poor for a 
mere trifle, these often disfiguring or even maiming their 
chattels so as to excite public compassion. It was not 
till 1640 that St. Vincent de Paul founded the first foundling 
hospital in France. A century before, the ordonnance of 
Moulins had obliged the communes of that jurisdiction to 
maintain all abandoned children found within their limits. 
In 1599, the Parliament of Paris had moved in the same 
direction, ordaining that the charge of foundlings should 
fall upon the parishes to which they belonged." 

It is the honour of the Republic to have established 
orphanages in all the cities and larger towns. By a law, 
moreover, of 15 Pluviose, An. XIII., a kind of family 
council was appointed for the children of the State. The 
conseil de tutelle discharged the functions of a conseil de 


famille. This trusteeship lasts till the majority or marriage 
of the individual. 

We now come to a class only a degree less unfortunate. 
I allude to the acknowledged children of irregular con- 
nections, the illegitimate. French law, as we know, is very 
merciful to parents who will atone for such lapses. Mar- 
riage, no matter the age of the offspring, legitimizes. A 
natural child is thereby put on precisely the same footing 
as if born in wedlock. 

In all other cases the law stands by him, in so far as 
possible, protecting and promoting his interests. " If there 
is a human being in the world requiring legal guardian- 
ship," writes a commentator before mentioned, " it is with- 
out doubt the illegitimate, friendless from the cradle, having 
no relations, none to look to but him to whom he owes his 
birth. The care and maintenance of natural children is 
the duty, the obligation of every father. If no provision 
were made by law to this effect, such provision would have 
to be made." The Code Civil has, in so far as possible, 
regulated the position of natural children. A family council, 
however, summoned on their behalf cannot be composed 
in the ordinary way, the illegitimate having neither kith 
nor kin. The relations of the father acknowledging them, 
friends of both father and mother are accepted, and the 
legal guardianship is framed on the same principles as 
that of children lawfully begotten. Volumes have been 
written on this subject, legists differing as to the right of 
a natural child to what is called legal or confessed 
guardianship, tutelle ttgale, i.e. paternal, or tutelle dative, 
i.e. appointed by the family council. When difficulties 
arise, the matter is settled by the Cour de Cassation. 

After minors, orphans, and illegitimates come the 
interdis, or individuals pronounced incapable of managing 
their affairs. These are imbeciles, maniacs, and persons 
condemned for criminal offences. Here the Code Napolfon 
now known as the Code Civil, amended the sterner Roman 


clause, according to which a deaf mute was placed on a 
level with idiots. A dispute on this question having arisen 
at Lyons in 1812, the Cour de Cassation decided that a 
deaf mute giving evidence of intelligence, although unable 
to read and write, must be pronounced compos mentis. 

In the case of insanity, a family council is summoned 
as a preliminary measure, a judicial sentence being required 
before depriving the individual in question of his liberty. 
An instance of the kind came some time ago under my 
own notice. The conseil de famille had agreed as to the 
necessity of seclusion, the tribunal decided otherwise. It 
will thus be seen that, except in case of a veritable con- 
spiracy of relations, friends, andjuge depaix, the extensive 
powers of this domestic court are hemmed round with 
guarantees. Again, we must bear in mind a fact constantly 
insisted upon by French legists, namely, that we are here 
dealing with a conseil d'avis, a consultation acknowledged 
by the law and responsible to the law, not with legislation 

A final class coming under the wardship of the family 
council consists of the incorrigible and the spendthrift in 
French phraseology le prodigue, a subject treated in the 
foregoing chapter. 

Any guardian, having grave matter for complaint against 
his ward, is empowered to summon a family council in 
order to pass the disciplinary measure called la rtclusion, 
in other words, a term of modified imprisonment (Code 
Civil, Art. 468, De la puissance paternelle}. 

Without doubt the most important function of the family 
council is the choice of guardians, the tutelle dative as 
opposed to the tutelle ttgale, the former being accorded by 
this body, the latter being the natural guardianship of 
parents. The tutelle Itgale is obligatory, no father being 
at liberty to reject the duty. So also is the tutelle dative ; 
no individual selected by a family council as guardian 
and being related to the family of the minor is at liberty 


to refuse the charge ; it is as much incumbent upon any 
French citizen as military service or the payment of taxes. 
This is a most important point to note. 

A few exemptions are specified in the code. Thus, 
the father of five legitimate children is exempt, also per- 
sons having attained the age of sixty-five, or being able 
to prove incompetency from illness. The following also 
may refuse : ministers and members of the legislative body, 
admirals, generals, and officers in active service, prtfets 
and other public functionaries at a distance from the 
minor's home. 

The conseil de famille having named a guardian, also 
names a tuteur subroj/, or surrogate, whose office is not in 
any way to interfere with the trustee, but to examine 
accounts and watch over the interests in question. 

On the subject of tutorial sphere and duty the law is 
explicit to minuteness. Generally speaking, he is expected 
to act as a father towards his own child, having care of 
his ward's moral and intellectual education, protecting his 
or her interests, in fact, filling the place of a second father. 
Whilst entrusted with the management of affairs as a 
whole, certain transactions lie outside his control. Thus 
he is not at liberty to accept a legacy for his ward without 
the consent of the conseil de famille. This precautionary 
measure requires explanation. Sometimes the reversion 
of property may mean very heavy legal expenses, an enjoy- 
ment of the same being a prospect too remote to be counted 
upon. An instance of this has come under my own obser- 
vation. A boy, son of French friends of mine, was left 
the reversion of an estate, the life interest being bequeathed 
to another. His parents, somewhat reluctantly accepted 
the charge, paying a little fortune in legal fees and duties 
for property most likely to come to a grandson. No family 
council would have authorized such a course in the case 
of a minor. 

Again, the guardian cannot purchase any part of his 


ward's estate or belongings. Nor can he re-invest stocks 
and shares without authorization. On the expiry of his 
charge, that is to say, on the marriage or coming of age 
of the minor, the property in trust has to be surrendered 
intact, all deficits made up from his own. 

On this subject a French lawyer wrote to me, "It is 
extremely rare that any ward has occasion to complain 
of his or her guardian. During a legal experience of 
twenty-five years, no serious matters of the kind have 
come under my notice. Nevertheless, my practice lay in 
a part of France where folks are very fond of going to 
law. It will occasionally happen that some elderly trustee 
persuades his young ward to marry him ; these gentlemen 
have not perhaps been over-pleased with their success in 
the long run. They are too much of a laughing stock." 
Legal coming of age, V Emancipation, brings the guardian's 
task to a close. According to French law there are two 
kinds of emancipation, the formal and the tacit ; these 
matters, however, lie beyond the scope of my paper. 

The functions of the family council are fully set forth 
in the Code Civil ; to understand its scope and spirit we 
must study the commentators. " Le Repertoire de juris- 
prudence ge'ne'ral," compiled by Victor and Armand Dalloz, 
was first published in 1836, but remains the standard work 
of reference on legal questions. A handy and admirable 
digest of the conseil de famille is to be found in the 
" Traite," by J.-L. Jay (Bureau des Annales des Juges de 
Paix, Paris, 1854). Unfortunately, this book is out of print, 
and only to be picked up on the quays or at bookstalls. 

In conclusion, I cite the words of a friend before quoted, 
an experienced French lawyer, no learned commentator, 
but a hard-working practitioner. " The excellence of such 
a system," he wrote, " is proved by one fact, namely, the 
very small number of lawsuits arising therefrom. Very 
rarely it happens that a ward has any reason to complain 
of his trustees." 


We must bear in mind that inadmissibility to the 
charge of trusteeship is a disgrace, almost on a footing 
with the forfeiture of civil rights. Hence the high character 
of French trustees generally. 

The family council is not often introduced into novels, 
an omission difficult to understand. 



ON this subject, the nicest and thorniest a foreigner 
can handle, I will confine myself to personal 
experience, speaking of our neighbours as I have 
found them. 

A contemporary French philosopher, M. Fouillee, has 
analyzed his country-people in a series of psychological 
and physiological studies, all profoundly interesting, but 
not appealing to the general reader. National traits and 
idiosyncrasy as evidenced in daily life are more readily 
grasped than scientific generalizations, and more profitably 
illustrate national character for those obliged to content 
themselves with vicarious acquaintance. 

I smile whenever my eyes light upon such stereotyped 
expressions as " our volatile neighbours," " the light- 
minded Gaul," "the pleasure-loving French," and so on. 
The French nation is, on the contrary, the most serious 
in the world, and Candide's query, " Est ce qu'on rit toujours 
a Paris ? " " (Is Paris always laughing ? ") might be answered 
thus, " When she does not weep," which is often. 

How little the great democracy at our doors is under- 
stood existing prejudices testify ; two or three generations 
ago every lettered and travelled Englishman could write 
of French people in language on a par with that of Roche- 
fort and Drumont when harrying the Jews or Protestants. 
Let the reader, for instance, turn to the eleventh chapter 
of Thomas Love Peacock's brilliant novelette, " Nightmare 



Abbey," published in 1818, for a verification of this state- 
ment. Doubtless, after relieving his feelings by this out- 
burst of truly disgusting invective, the author felt that he 
had acquitted himself of a patriotic duty, and, if he did not 
implicitly believe his appraisement of French character, 
regarded it as a felicitous guess. It was left for our great 
poets of that epoch, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, and 
Shelley, to champion the France of Revolution ; from their 
days to our own, English writers on French people and 
French affairs have mostly been blind leaders of the blind, 
intensifying rather than eradicating insular prejudice. It 
must be confessed that our neighbours have only themselves 
to blame for much of this misconception. Frenchmen are 
often whimsically, even libellously self-depreciative. They 
love to wear a fictitious heart upon their sleeve, to dandle 
a mannikin in the eyes of naive beholders. Here Anglo- 
Saxon and Gaul conspicuously differ. 

An Englishman is apt to follow Hamlet's counsel and 
affect a virtue though he has it not. A Frenchman vaunts 
of foibles quite foreign to his nature. 

The following story is apposite. 

One day in my presence, a matron, wife of a Dijon 
notary, was praising her friend's son. 

"Your Jules is charming," she said "so amiable, so 
diligent, and so steady ! " 

" Humph ! " replied the stripling's mamma ; " he would 
not be pleased to hear himself called steady," the country- 
bred youth in question, whom I knew well, being as little 
likely to become a gay Lothario as was the younger 

Novelists have here sinned greatly, but on that point I 
dwell further on. 

Another strongly marked quality is reserve, reminding 
one of a Japanese toy in the shape of a box. Remove the 
lid and you find a second, the second contains a third, 
the third a fourth, and so on. It is a very long time 


before you get at the kernel. Nor is such reserve exercised 
towards foreigners only. Some time since a French friend 
was dining with me at a Paris hotel chiefly frequented by 
rich Chicagans. After dinner the company adjourned into 
the hall, and there over tea or coffee broke up into little 
groups. Quite evidently most of these tourists were chance- 
made acquaintances, encountered, perhaps, on their liner 
or in these Parisian quarters. All were now fraternizing 
with the utmost cordiality. " How pleasant is this experi- 
ence ! " observed my companion, himself in former days 
a considerable traveller ; " and how unlike the behaviour 
of my own country people when thrown together on foreign 

It is only among the much travelled and cosmopolitan 
that letters introductory lead to any but the most formal 
hospitality or superficial acquaintance in France. The 
late Mr. Hamerton, who married a French wife, and spent 
thirty-five years in his adopted country, was astounded 
at the prevailing unsociableness in country places. The 
home so agreeably described in " Round my house " was 
situated within a walk of Autun, in Burgundy. Mr. Hamer- 
ton had plenty of neighbours, that is to say, families living, 
as is the case here, a few miles off, all being in easy cir- 
cumstances and possessing vehicles. Folks, he told me, 
saw next to nothing of each other. Intercourse began and 
ended with ceremonious calls made at lengthy intervals. 
In England, under such circumstances, every one would 
know every one. The social ball would be kept rolling, 
money would circulate at a brisk pace, from the end of 
July till November. 

This observation brings me to the hallmark of French 
descent, the indubitable proof of Gallic ancestry. Such 
stay-at-home, circumscribed ways arise partly from habits 
of inveterate, inrooted economy. "The Anglo-Saxon," 
writes M. E. Demolins, " is the most perfect organism that 
exists alike for the purpose of gaining and spending 


money. In France," he adds, "there is less inclination to 
gain money, and for the most part no inclination whatever 
to spend it." 

Such parsimony, whilst it accounts for the absence of 
perpetual and salutary social intercourse, give and take 
familiar to ourselves, has its origin in the purest and loftiest 
springs of human action. Thrift degenerates into avarice, 
yet what was thrift in the beginning but forethought, the 
long, long look towards years to come ; not only care for 
one's self, but for one's offspring in other words, for 
humanity ? " Every Frenchman," writes M. Hanotaux, in 
the new volume of his monumental work, " works for the 
future, accumulates for posterity, restricting his wants and 
his enjoyment in the interest of after generations." * As I 
have already shown, even the peasants of the ancien regime, 
despite corvte and gabelle, despite fiscal and seigneurial 
oppression, contrived to lay the foundation of family 

Another hallmark of French character is delicacy, the 
horror of wounding the susceptibilities, of being deemed 
obtuse, unamiable, or impolite. 

Here is an illustration. 

Some years ago, when staying at Lons-le-Saulnier 
(Jura), my host accompanied me to lunch with friends 
living an hour and a half off by road and rail, their carriage 
meeting us at the little country station. We were to leave 
at four o'clock, no other train being available till late in 
the evening. 

The moment for departure drew near, but my friend, 
deep in a political discussion, had apparently become 
unmindful of the arrangement ; our hostess, I noticed, did 
just glance at the clock once or twice, that was all. At the 
eleventh hour I ventured to take the initiative ; the carriage 
was brought round, the horse put to a trot, and we caught 
the train by half a minute. As I knew that the later hour 

* " La France contemporaine," vol. ii. 


would have inconvenienced both hosts and guests, and as 
I had noticed madame's furtive glances at the timepiece, 
I asked my companion why we had not been dispatched 
without haste and flurry. He looked at me with no little 
surprise. " Tell a visitor it is time for him to go ? The 
thing is impossible ! " 

Certainly the English plan of speeding the parting 
guest has much to recommend it, but the story is highly 
suggestive. It helps us to understand how Voltaire allowed 
himself, as he put it, to become the " innkeeper of Europe." 
Mr. Hamerton preferred John Bull's blunt outspokenness. 
His home near Autun becoming too much intruded upon 
by English and American visitors, he affixed the following 
notice to his front door : " Visitors at the Pr Charmoy who 
have not received an invitation for the night are requested 
to leave at six o'clock." Imagine the shocked surprise of 
French callers able to decipher the inscription ! 

The horror of appearing uncourteous is evinced in many 

Thus, no matter how visible or grotesque may be 
English blunders in French, our neighbours never permit 
themselves so much as a smile in your presence ; instead 
they will quietly and even apologetically put the speaker 
right. There are natures of finer or coarser calibre in 
France as elsewhere, but a dominant note of national 
character is this delicacy. Many formulas of current 
speech, indeed, bring out the idiosyncrasy. Harsh terms 
and disagreeable expletives are avoided, ill-sounding forms 
of expression toned down. When the great statesman 
Thiers had breathed his last, the tidings were thus con- 
veyed to the widow : "Madame, votre illustre mari a ve$u " 
(" Your illustrious husband once lived "). To have blurted 
out, " Your husband is dead," would seem in French ears 
an aggravation of the shock. 

Again, how charming and characteristic is that oxy- 
moron, unejolie laide ("a plain beauty "), in other words, a 


woman whose vivacity and expressiveness atone for Nature's 
unkindness in other respects. 

Another euphemism is the expression, " il laisse a 
de'sirer " (" it leaves something to be desired "). 

A tutor, for instance, reporting progress of an un- 
satisfactory pupil, will not distress his parents by saying, 
" Your son's conduct is bad," or " Your son is not doing 
well." He qualifies the unpleasant information by writing 
word that both behaviour and application to studies leave 
something, or maybe much, to be desired. 

These things are not wholly bagatelles, but it is also 
in grave matters that this national trait is conspicuous. 

Leisureliness is another inrooted French attribute. 
The prevailing dislike of hurry, the margin of time allowed 
alike for trivial as well as weighty transactions, are re- 
freshingly opposed to American standards. 

The proverb " Time is money " has not as yet found 
acceptance in the most intellectual and highly polished 
country of Europe. France, like Hamlet, has still her 
breathing hour of the day ; compared to the Republic 
across the Atlantic, is still " a pleasing land of drowsy- 
head." In a charming volume, Madame Bentzon recounts 
how an American acquaintance once visited her in the 
Seine and Marne, and his astoundment at the spectacle 
before him. The antiquated farming methods still in 
vogue, oxen drawing old-fashioned wooden ploughs, hus- 
bandmen cutting their tiny patches of corn, housewives 
minding their cows afield, transported him to Biblical 
scenes. He could hardly realize that he was in Europe, 
and in such a quarter of Europe. 

It is not only country folks who must ever have a liberal 
allowance of time. Equally somnolent must appear the 
commercial world in Chicagan eyes. 

"At Bradford men never walk, they are always running," 
said a French youth to me after some months' sojourn in a 
business house of that city. 


A Luton straw-hat manufacturer of my acquaintance 
thus commented on the same characteristic 

" The French are excellent customers, but are very slow 
in making up their minds. The French buyer will turn 
over a hat or a bonnet a dozen times, go away without 
giving an order, will look in next day, very likely the day 
after that, before coming to a decision. But French com- 
mercial honour stands at high-water mark ; thus, dilatory 
as are French buyers, none receive a warmer welcome." 

English travellers are sometimes exasperated by this 
leisureliness in other quarters. In September of last year 
I left Paris for Dover by the excellent 9.45 forenoon 
express. The weather had just broken up in Switzerland, 
and late arrivers at the Gare du Nord found the greatest 
difficulty in procuring a seat. A young Englishman in 
this plight who addressed himself to an official received 
the following reply : " You should be here an hour before 
the train starts " ! Regarded from a wholly opposite point 
of view, this deliberate, unhasting temperament is indeed 
enviable. How much may not the excellence of French 
manufactures, handicrafts, and produce be thereby ac- 
counted for ? 

Nor is Goethe's maxim, " Ohne Hast, ohne Rast " 
(" without haste, without rest "), non-existent in other fields. 
Art, literature, legislation, have been similarly influenced, 
whilst leisureliness, an instinctive repugnance to hurry and 
bustle, a philosophic love of repose, constitute a paramount 
charm of French home life. Under our neighbours' roof 
we are not too rudely reminded that " Time and tide wait 
for no man," much less that " Time is money." No wonder 
that the prematurely old men of whom Mr. Foster Fraser 
speaks in his American sketches, white-haired, care-lined 
veterans of thirty, are unknown in France. There at least 
folks allow time to overtake them ; they do not advance 
post haste to meet it. 

The least sentimental people on the face of the earth, 


our neighbours have a matchless genius for friendship. 
" There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother," 
might have been written by Montaigne rather than by 
Jesus, the son of Sirach. We often hear on elderly lips 
the endearing " thee " and " thou " of the Quaker, old 
lycdens, grandmothers whose acquaintance dated from 
the first communion, maintaining brotherly, sisterly rela- 
tions throughout life. The bachelor, the functionary, the 
military man compelled to dine at a restaurant, must ever 
have a commensal, or table companion ; in this respect they 
resemble Kant. The great philosopher's means in later 
life permitting such hospitality, he ever had three or four 
covers laid for daily " Tischgenossen." Little wonder that 
the sociable Gaul abhors a solitary meal. 

It was Montesquieu's opinion that when an English- 
man wanted thoroughly to enjoy his newspaper, he climbed 
on to a housetop for the sake of privacy ! True it is 
that whilst we have the verb "to enjoy one's self," the 
French have another and more amiable reflective, jouir de 
qutlquun * (" to enjoy another's society "). " Je vais jouir de 
vous " (" I come to enjoy you "), said a charming lady to 
me one evening in a country house near Nancy. 

The most reserved, yet the most sociable being in the 
world, the most accomplished in the art of friendship, 
neither in friendship nor in love is a Frenchman in the 
least given to sentimentality. The only subjects on which 
he ever sentimentalizes are patrie, drapeau, Rfyublique 
motherland, tricolour, Republic. Personalities evoke the 
most profound, unalterable attachments, the most fervid 
admiration, never gushing outbursts. No wonder that 
modern German novels are so little appreciated in France. 
Dickens, for whom our neighbours have a positive venera- 
tion, is often a sentimentalist, but in his case the single 
defect is counterbalanced by a thousand virtues. I will 

* "Jouir de quelqu'un, avoir le temps, la liberte de conferer avec lui, d'en 
tirer quelque service, quelque plaisir" (Littre). 


now turn to a French trait that equally puzzles insular 

Why, in a pre-eminently intellectual and fastidious 
people, do we find an undisguised, immoderate addiction 
to le gros rire, an insatiable appetite for the grotesquely 
laughable ? How little sort Parisian comic papers, popular 
Parisian plays, and M. Rochefort's scurrilous pasquinades 
with the loftier side of French character ! 

In the first place, we must remember that no wave of 
Puritanism has at any time swept over the land of Rabelais. 
The joyousness which Rabelais inculcated as a duty, the 
rollicking spirits in his own case masking stern philosophic 
truths, have never received similar check. Le gros rire, 
the hearty laugh, still remains the national refuge from 
care and ennui ; as in former days, it ofttimes diverted the 
mind from impending tortures and violent death. Alike 
martyrs and criminals have made merry in awful moments. 
The Marquise de Brinvilliers jested over the preparations 
for her long-drawn-out torments, the gallant young de la 
Barre uttered a sally on the eve of a doom no less horrible, 
Danton improvised puns as he was jolted towards the 

Every Frenchman has a touch of Rabelais, of Voltaire, 
in his composition. 

I once asked an old friend of eclectic tastes and high 
culture how it was that the buffooneries and scurrilities of 
the Intransigeant could possibly interest him. " Ma foi, 
je ne sais pas, mais ga me fait rire " (" On my word I don't 
know, but the paper makes me laugh "), was his reply. 

Laughter the copious exercise of the risible faculties 
is a constitutional, a physical need of the Gallic tempera- 
ment. Hence the enormous popularity enjoyed two genera- 
tions ago by Paul de Kock. Search the little library of 
this writer's fiction through and you will find no scintilla 
of wit, hardly a bon-mot. But in one respect he was a true 
literary descendant of Rabelais. His Gauloiseries, broad 


drolleries, could ever raise a laugh. Few people read poor 
Paul de Kock nowadays. Le rire in Anatole France has 
found a subtler, more piquant, more philosophic exponent, 
but anything and everything is forgiven that author, actor, 
musician, or artist who can evoke spontaneous mirth. 

How came it about that " L' Allegro " was written by 
an Anglo-Saxon and a Puritan, and not by a Frenchman ? 
The matter must remain an eternal mystery. 

On this subject there remains one point to be dealt 
with. An English friend, who had been shocked by some 
coarse illustrated papers purchased at a Paris kiosque, 
lately put the following question to me : How were such 
publications compatible with the purity of French home 
life? My answer was simple boys and girls in France 
do not enjoy the liberty, or rather the licence, permitted 
among ourselves. When journeying from Hastings to 
Folkestone by train some years since with a French friend, 
two boys of ten to twelve sitting opposite had their heads 
deep in newspapers. The French mother was greatly 
shocked. Children of that age, she said, were never per- 
mitted in France to purchase or read newspapers. And 
I can speak from experience, that where young people are 
present, the Rabelaisian joke, or double entendre, is banished 
from the family board. 

If the critical faculty is sometimes at fault where the 
risible is concerned, it is nevertheless an equally striking 
characteristic. French literary criticism has ever stood at 
high-water mark, and to criticize, with our neighbours, 
takes the place of to enjoy. 

Listen to the work-a-day world at the Louvre or the 
Luxembourg on a Sunday afternoon. Instead of the inter- 
jectional "How pretty ! " " How beautiful ! " " How life-like!" 
of a similar audience at the Royal Academy or National 
Gallery on Bank Holiday, you will overhear cautious, 
painstaking, deliberately uttered criticism the views of 
men and women who are there not merely for irreflective 


enjoyment, the whiling away of an idle hour, but for the 
exercise of the critical faculty, the ripening of artistic taste, 
the comparing achievements with a preconceived ideal. 

Still more marked is, of course, this habit of mind 
among the highly cultivated. A French friend, for instance, 
accompanies you to a museum, picture-gallery, or play. 
You soon discover that you have at hand, not a cicerone, 
but a lynx-eyed critic, disputable or unobvious points 
being raised every moment, the reasoning, questioning 
instinct perpetually alert. To less subtle minds such a 
mood will appear hypercritical, but herein without doubt 
lies the secret of French supremacy in art and letters, and 
that better word I will call the finish of manufactures 
and handicrafts. And what is the perfect dress of a 
Frenchwoman but an evolution of the critical spirit, and 
to place herself above criticism in this respect is often im- 
mensely difficult. Thus the wife of an officer in garrison 
or of a lyceen professor, no matter the narrowness of 
resources, must on no account make calls except in an 
irreproachable toilette and in style up to date. The young 
wife of an artillery captain with whom I once spent some 
time at Clermont-Ferrand, used to keep one complete 
costume for visits of ceremony, immediately on her return 
doffing not only bonnet and gown, but slip, shoes, and even 
fancy stockings ! Every article must retain its comparative 
freshness and fashionableness till replaced. Critical her- 
self, a Frenchwoman naturally guards against criticism in 

The French mind is pre-eminently logical. " We reason 
more than we imagine," writes M. Fouill^e, " and what we 
imagine the best is not the exterior world, but the inner 
world of sentiments and thoughts." Further on this 
psychologist adds, "The passion for reasoning often leads 
to forgetfulness of observation " (" Psychologic du peuple 
Frangaise"). This love of system, this tendency to 
generalize at the expense of experience, is strikingly 


evidenced in M. Boutmy's recent work on the English 
people. Nothing is more characteristic of the two nations 
than the methods respectively pursued by the above-named 
writer and the late Mr. Hamerton. In his admirably 
judicial work, " French and English," our countryman jots 
down the experiences of thirty-five years' residence in 
France, illustrating each proposition by telling anecdotes 
and traits of character that have come immediately under 
his own observation. M. Boutmy enters upon his task as 
a mathematician working out a problem. From a few 
principles, with great lucidity, he traces the evolution of the 
English mind as shown in matters intellectual, social, and 
material. Mr. Hamerton spoke of Frenchmen and French- 
women as he found them, and is consequently never at 
fault. M. Boutmy cannot for a moment relinquish his 
theories ; but theories, however sound, will not always ac- 
commodate themselves to actualities. 

Here is an instance. M. Boutmy describes the English 
people as inaccessible to pity. But what are the facts ? 
To the honour of England, be it said, here was promulgated 
the first law rendering punishable inhumanity to animals.* 
Tardily enough, the French Government so far followed 
our initiative as to pass the Lot Gramont, an Act, unfor- 
tunately, too often a dead letter. 

The entire work shows the same subordination of ex- 
perience to system, observation to theory. 

M. Boutmy and M. G. Amdde Thierry, who also speaks 
of the English as a people inaccessible to pity (Le complot 
des Libelles), should note the impressions of the French 
medical men recently visiting our shores. To the immense 
astonishment of these gentlemen, they discovered that all 

* " The English," writes Mr. Rambaud, "had the honour of preceding 
every other nation in humane treatment of the insane. Whilst in Paris (until 
the Revolution) insane people were herded with criminals, loaded with chains, 
cruelly beaten and shut up in frightful cells, England founded so far back 
as 1547 the asylum of Bedlam, and in 1751 St. Luke's, for the mentally afflicted " 
(" Histoire de la civilization Fran9aise," vol. iii. : 1900). 


our magnificent hospitals are entirely supported by private 
contributions, and that outdoor patients are not only 
examined gratuitously, but supplied with medicaments free 
of charge. 

And as I write these lines I see in a morning paper the 
following testimony to "a people inaccessible to pity." 
The correspondent describes a meeting held in Paris on 
behalf of the Sunday rest movement, and he adds, " It 
is pleasant to note how strongly and sympathetically this 
social reform is advocated by the French press, and how 
the example of England is admired and recommended." 

Such appreciation is not common. If our neighbours 
have hitherto habitually been misrepresented here, still 
more have English folks been misjudged on the other side 
of La Manche. 

The French intellect is above all things scientific. It 
must never be forgotten that the very first great scientific 
expeditions set on foot in the world were due to French 
initiative. " When the question of the figure of the earth 
came to be debated," wrote our late Astronomer- Royal, Sir 
George Biddell Airy, "two celebrated expeditions were made 
under the auspices of the French Government. I believe 
that in matters of science, as stated by Guizot, France has 
been the great pioneer." And this eminent authority 
adds further on, " There is also one measure of the dimen- 
sions of the earth which is worth mentioning, on account 
of the extraordinary times in which it was effected. It was 
the great measure extending from Dunkirk in France to 
Barcelona in Spain, and afterwards continued to Formentara, 
a small island near Minorca. It is worth mentioning, 
because it was done in the hottest times of the French 
Revolution. We are accustomed to consider that time as 
one purely of anarchy and bloodshed ; but the energetic 
Government of France (the Convention), though labouring 
under the greatest difficulties, could find opportunities for 
sending out an expedition for these scientific purposes, and 


thus did actually, during the hottest times of the revolution 
complete a work to which nothing equal had been attempted 
in England." 

Equally characteristic is the practical spirit, the utili- 
tarian side, the persistent looking to results. Vagueness, 
shilly-shally, indefinite, happy-go-lucky methods are not 
common over the water. Here, as in most respects, Gaul 
and Anglo-Saxon are the antipodes of each other. 

What romance runs through English life is strictly con- 
fined to courtship and marriage, to the domestic circle, the 
individual sphere ; not a vestige of the poetic or ideal 
informing the atmosphere of politics. 

The French fireside, on the contrary, is strictly prosaic, 
wedlock being a partnership primarily arranged with defer- 
ence to worldly circumstances. But remote from daily 
surroundings, in the arena of public life, when called upon 
to deal with ideas rather than with facts, a Frenchman can 
be the most generously romantic, the most magnanimously 
chivalrous Utopian imaginable. 

A Frenchman will think fifty, nay, five hundred times, 
before marrying for love, when marrying for love would 
involve impoverished circumstances, loss of position, the 
future of his children hazarded ; without so much as a 
second thought, like the misguided hero of the Commune, 
he will rush to the barricade and confront ignominy and 
death on behalf of the disinherited, of some new Atlantis 
in which he entirely believes.* 

If I were asked to crystallize the foregoing conclusions 
to focus in a sentence my experience of French character, 
I should say that, intellectually and socially, here civilization 
has reached its highest expression. I will end these pages 
with a simile. 

As I have already insisted upon, "the fickle Gaul," 
" the light-minded Frenchman," " our volatile neighbours," 

* See in "La Commune," by the brothers Margueritte, Rossel's noble 
words on the eve of his execution. 


possess a genius for friendship. Serviceable, sincere, peren- 
nial, French friendship reminds me of that beautiful element 
recently discovered by two native scientists. Proof against 
time, vicissitude, and extraneous influences, what French 
friendship has once been it remains throughout life, like 
radium, immutable among mutable things, shining with 
undiminished ray till the end. 



O Frenchmen ever work ? " once a clever English 
friend asked me. "According to novels, the 
only occupation of men over the water is to 
run after other men's wives " ! 

French writers of fiction stand as culprits at the bar. 
So gravely have they sinned against truth and the fitness 
of things that the average novel must be accepted as a 
travesty, no more resembling French domestic life than 
the traditional caricature of John Bull by our neighbours 
resembles the typical Englishman. Were middle-class 
homes, indeed, of a piece with certain portraitures, the 
words " family " and " fireside " were mere figures of speech 
and simulacra over the water. 

The misconceptions created by so-called realistic novels 
are almost ineradicable. In an enthusiastic work on French 
expansion by a naturalized Frenchman, the writer implores 
his literary brethren to weigh their responsibilities. 
"Frenchmen," he writes, "ought to set their faces un- 
compromisingly against turpitudes so antagonistic to 
national influence" (" L'Expansion Frangaise," par M. 
Novikoff: Paris). 

On this subject, a writer I have before quoted observed 
thirty years ago, "Without doubt the world described by 
M. Flaubert (in 'Madame Bovary') exists, but is it the 
whole world ? And if a novelist confines himself to holes 
and corners of society, as a delineator of society, can he 



be called truthful ? " Elsewhere he wrote of Paul FeVal's 
once famous " Fanny," " This aversion to the truth among 
my friends and associates alarms and afflicts me." 

What would Philarete Chasles have thought of 
"L'H6ritier" by Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert's most 
celebrated disciple ? In so far as style, composition, and, 
up to a certain point, characterization go, the story is a 
masterpiece. It would be difficult to find more exquisite 
pictures of suburban Paris, or more finely turned impres- 
sions of atmosphere. The writer's skill is to be deplored, 
since the incident on which the plot turns is not only 
nauseous in the extreme, but grotesque in its exaggeration 
of complacent immorality. 

And what would the same critic have said to Daudet's 
" L'Immortel " ? Here we find ourselves in a very different 
social sphere to those described in " Madame Bovary " and 
"L'Hritier." The immorality is here of still deeper 

Madame Astier is the wife of an Immortel, i.e. a 
member of the French Academy, the highest honour to 
which a literary man can aspire. We are asked to believe 
that this woman could stint the family board of necessaries, 
lie, plot, and deceive her husband, even stoop to vice, 
for the sake of a dissolute son. 

In novels of later date we find a disregard, not only of 
morality, but of seemliness that is positively appalling. 

Take, by way of example, two stories that appeared 
two or three years ago " Une ame obscure " and " Le 
journal d'une femme de chambre." Well may stay-at- 
home readers ask themselves the question, Does the word 
" home," as we understand it, really exist in France ? Yet 
both these loathesome works have found admiring critics. 
It was on the strength of a review in a Paris newspaper 
that I ordered the first, and the second was lauded to the 
skies in an English review. 

There is also another point to be considered. No 


wave of Puritanism has ever swept over French life and 
literature. As a contemporary philosopher writes, " France 
missed her Reformation, and the consequences are felt to 
this day" (M. Coste, " Sociologie Objective "). Clarifying, 
refining influences must come from other sources. 

It is hardly necessary to say that such works are not 
found upon drawing-room tables on the other side of the 
channel. In the case of young daughters, maternal censor- 
ship is rigid, the Russian blacking-out system not more 
so. Objectionable fiction finds its public among "young 
men about town," rich ne'er-do-wells, idlers generally, and 
among old and pious ladies, who, having led immaculate 
and somewhat prosy existences, are anxious to know dis- 
reputable folks and their ways from hearsay. The native 
patronage of such novels would not, however, suffice to 
keep their authors going. As M. Novikoff explains in the 
volume before mentioned, French fiction of this kind sells 
much more largely beyond the frontier than on French 
soil. Russia is by far the best customer of the so-called 
realistic novelist, Germany and England following suit. 
Any one who has lived among our neighbours must have 
come to this conclusion unaided by statistics. Thrifty 
folks will think twice before spending three francs and a 
half on a book to be thrown away when read. If occa- 
sionally middle-class Darbies and Joans do purchase a 
volume only mentionable among their contemporaries, 
they will thus indulge themselves out of sheer curiosity, 
and enjoy a new sensation. 

Vice and crime have, of course, their thickly populated 
walks in France as elsewhere. The sanctity of home is 
guarded jealously as the gates of Paradise by flaming 
brand. Not wider apart the fragrant valley of Roenabed 
and the ebon halls of Eblis in Beckford's wonderful tale, 
than French family life and Bohemia, whether gilded or 

It is characteristic of the French mind to seek 


vicarious emotion, and enjoy what is called Us sublimes 
horreurs (" sublime horrors"). Here we have an explanation 
of other proclivities, among these the enthusiasm for 
Sarah Bernhardt's most harrowing rdles. 

I well remember, when in Algeria many years ago, 
visiting with a friend an old lady just upon ninety. As 
she sunned herself in the garden, she had on her lap per- 
haps the "creepiest" book as boys would say ever 
written, " Les derniers jours d'un CondamneV' 

" Not very lively reading that," observed my companion ; 
the other replying 

" Mais quel rdcit saissisant ! " (" But what an enthral- 
ling narrative ! "). 

But the existence of such novels as " Une dme obscure," 
and " Le Journal d'une femme de chambre " requires 
further elucidation. Why should capable, above all re- 
puted, writers fix upon themes alike in subject and treat- 
ment so grotesquely untrue to life and so repellent ? 

The plain truth of the matter is, that average existence, 
especially middle-class existence, in France is too un- 
eventful, too eminently respectable, for sensational or 
dramatic handling. In support of this theory let me 
instance two contemporary writers, both to the fore in 
literary ranks. 

M. Hanotaux lately published a delightful volume of 
sketches not quite felicitously titled " L'^nergie Franchise." 
In one exquisitely worded chapter he sketches daily 
routine in an ancient cathedral city. Monotonous as was 
the domestic round of " Cranford " and " Our village," it 
must be set down as " a giddy round of vain delights " 
compared with that of Laon. 

All who have lived in French country towns and 
villages realize the veracity of the picture. So slowly the 
clock often moves, so unbroken is the sameness of week 
after week, that a catastrophe, the unforeseen, seem 
positively banished from French soil. Take another 


picture of everyday life from the pen of that usually 
incisive writer, Edouard Rod. 

Minded to produce a story after the English model, 
that is to say, one that should be irreproachable, M. Rod 
gives us " Mademoiselle Annette," which can no more be 
compared in interest and vivacity to the " Small House at 
Allington," or "The Chronicles of Carlingford," than 
Daudet's " Jack " can be compared to the " David Copper- 
field " of his great forerunner and model. 

Prosiest of prosy stories, in truth, is " Mademoiselle 
Annette," not a touch of romance, humour, or moving 
pathos enlivening its pages. Only the genius of a Balzac 
could have made such dry bones to live. The theme of 
"Eugenie Grandet" is hardly more exciting, yet that 
story is one of undying interest. Balzac stands absolutely 
alone as an exponent of bourgeois life, and vile although 
are many types, others are of singular beauty and elevation 
the village priest in the " Cure du Village," the charming 
wife of C6sar Birotteau, Docteur Benassis, and many 

Society is so constituted in France that the novelist is 
thus forced back upon the exceptional and far-fetched, 
the annals of vice and crime. Nowadays readers require 
a different sensationalism in literature to that furnished 
by their predecessors Eugene, Sue, and Dumas. And as 
French firesides are the reverse of sensational, popular 
writers look for inspiration elsewhere. 

Whilst being in no sense an apology for the bad novel, 
such a fact may be accepted as, at least, partly explanative. 
We must remember that there are no romantic marriages 
in France, very little that falls under the head of love- 
making, and nothing whatever that answers to German 
schwdrmerei, an intensive expression of our own senti- 
mentality. To be fantasque, that is to say, to have 
romantic, unconventional notions, is a term of severe 
reproach ; woe be to that Frenchwoman who incurs it. 


Tradition, bringing up, material interests, are all opposed 
to the freedom which renders English girlhood a prolific 
theme for the novelist. No well-bred French girl ever 
enjoys an innocent flirtation, much more a harmless 
escapade. Nor must she relish them on paper till she 
has entered into the partnership of marriage. 

Again, the domestic circle in France is essentially that, 
and very rarely anything more. The vast majority of 
middle-class folks spend their entire lives within such cir- 
cumscribed limits, in no wise affected by extraneous in- 
fluences. The same may be said of vast numbers with us ; 
but English people, no matter their rank or condition, 
move about more freely than our neighbours, and even 
those of moderate means at some time or other travel 
abroad. Very few English families are without Indian or 
colonial branches, an element considerably adding to the 
movement and interest of daily life. 

The material of fiction in the two countries is, however, 
chiefly affected by social usages and ideals. The French 
domestic story must perforce become a roman pour jeunes 
filles, a story for girls. Goody-goody such tales never are ; 
they are often well written, and deserve the name of litera- 
ture. The tragedy of life, the profound springs of action, 
are never therein touched upon. 

When I look back upon twenty-five years' experience 
of French domestic life, I can only recall two incidents 
which a novelist could have turned to good account. The 
first was an affair involving family honour and good 
repute, several households being brought low by the 
malversations of one member. The second was a case 
of mistaken identity that very nearly proved as tragic. 
A young man, the son of friends, was charged with 
robbery and murder, and although the accusation was 
disproved a few hours later, the shock almost killed his 

Both circumstances lent themselves admirably to 



dramatic treatment ; and more than once have I said to 
myself, if only a novelist had the slightest chance of being 
true to foreign life, here were abundant materials for my 
pen. Quieter themes have also tempted me from time to 
time. But no matter how well we may know our neigh- 
bours, English stories of French life are doomed to 
failure ! 

One novelette coming under this category affords a 
striking instance in point. An English writer had set 
himself the somewhat difficult task of describing a clerical 
interior, the home of a village priest. Two egregious in- 
congruities marked the attempt. 

Here was a country curt listening in the evening to 
Beethoven's Sonatas played by a young niece ! 

Now, in the first place, you might search France 
through without finding a piano in a rustic presbyttre ; 
in the second, you would as vainly seek a village priest 
appreciative of German classic music ; and, thirdly, the 
notion of a young girl keeping house for a bachelor uncle, 
above all, an ecclesiastic, is in the highest degree pre- 

French writers, when dealing with English contemporary 
life, are at a still greater disadvantage, so little hitherto 
have our neighbours cared to live amongst us. Picturesque 
effects, happy approximations, may be achieved on both 
sides. But the inmost heart of a people, inherited cha- 
racteristics, national temperament, how unreachable must 
these ever be by an outsider ! 

In one class of the modern French novel a certain 
licence is admissible, even obligatory. I allude to the 
latest development of fiction in France, the novel with a 

In his famous Rougon-Macquart series, Zola, from the 
reader's point of view, set a somewhat disconcerting 
example. Didactic novels are no longer entities, but part 
of a cycle. Thus a story called " Bonnes Meres " (ironical 


for " over-fond mothers ") was announced as the second of 
nine volumes, all having a distinct moral and intellectual 
affinity ! The story brings out in scenes alternately 
diverting and sordid, the exaggerated views of certain 
French parents concerning the marriage of their children, 
and the theories still upheld by clauses of the Code Civil. 
In " Bonnes Meres," all our sympathy is with the hero and 
heroine, commonplace, amiable young people, as anxious 
as possible to fall in love with each other after being duly 
married by their respective mothers, aided by two marieuses, 
or matchmakers. The two latter, mercenary old ladies, 
are represented as having the run of fashionable society, 
and receiving handsome sums for their matchmaking 
services. The unfortunate young couple soon discover 
that, far from escaping maternal control, wedlock has 
placed them under tutelage more galling. The author 
pleads for a revision of the Code Civil, and more individu- 
ality in the home. 

"La Source Fatale " ("The fatal source"), by A. 
Couvreur, is the third of a series devoted to social ques- 
tions. The author's purpose is set forth in his preface, 
namely, to expose " the alcoholic scourge that crowds our 
prisons, hospitals, and lunatic asylums, that demoralizes the 
race, physically, morally, and mentally." 

We have here the powerful picture of a promising and 
happy life wrecked by absinthe-drinking. M. Couvreur 
sets to work scientifically and philosophically. His hero's 
downhill career is followed stage by stage with unsparing 
detail and accurate diagnosis. The once healthful, whole- 
some-minded, self-controlled gentleman gradually sinks 
into sensual excess, sottishness, and mania, his last 
frenzied act being to fire the distillery of which he was 
formerly secretary. 

But novels with a purpose in France, as with ourselves, 
deal with the abnormal, and are no reflex of average 
character and careers. 



As I have already averred, French home life is un- 
suitable for romance. Domestic existence flows evenly 
as the streams beautifying native landscape, all kinds of 
sweet and pleasant objects reflected in their waves, but 
one mile very much resembling another, from source to out- 
flow little in the way of diversity or surprise. 



BALZAC'S familiarity with the Code Civil is con- 
spicuous in many of his works. Since the great 
psychologist wrote, however, domestic legislation 
in France has been considerably modified. 

" Eugenie Grandet " affords an excellent example of the 
first statement. In that " great little novel," an epithet 
applied by Balzac to another of his chefs d'ceuvre, we find 
the miser of Saumur in despair, not because he has lost his 
wife, but because he thereby had forfeited control of her 
property. By dint of cajoleries and mean artifices, he 
induces the love-lorn Eugenie to renounce her heirship in 
his favour. 

When Balzac made cette grande petite histoire out of the 
merest nothings, and until a few years ago, husbands and 
wives were in no sense inheritors of each other's fortune. 
A man dying intestate, his widow, whether dowered or 
portionless, whether the mother of children or childless, 
was not by law entitled to a penny or so much as a stick 
of furniture. The very body of the defunct could not be 
buried in accordance with her wishes.* In fact, from the 
moment that the breath was out of his nostrils, she became 
a stranger in her husband's house. Only in the case of 
non-existent blood relation, no matter how remote the 
kinship, could a widow claim her late husband's substance, 

* The Michelet law-suit, that made a great stir some years ago, is an 
illustration in point. 



second and even third cousins being enriched to her entire 
exclusion. The same rule applied to a widower. Hence 
the pb-e Grandet's dilemma. With dismay approaching 
to frenzy, he saw the usufruct of his wife's portion passing 
into other hands, those of their own daughter ! It was not 
until 1891 that a new law entitled the survivor of an 
intestate partner to the fourth or half, according to circum- 
stances, of his or her income, such life-interest being 
annulled by re-marriage, and not holding good in the case 
of divorced persons or of those judicially separated. In 
some measure the legal one-sidedness of former days could 
be remedied by the marriage contract. Thus, a man about 
to marry a portionless bride, a most unusual occurrence in 
France, might, in accordance with the regime called la 
communautt de bien, or participation of means, endow his 
wife with a part of his property, that part accruing to her 
at his death. But it was not by virtue of heirship that she 
obtained such a share. She merely became full possessor 
of property which had always been her own, and of which 
her husband had been the usufructuary. 

I once stayed in Brittany with a lady who had not 
long before lost her husband, a doctor of some note ; from 
time outstanding bills were paid, the half going to his 
children by a former marriage, the other half, down to a 
centime, accruing to my hostess. Both systems of contract 
were in full force before the Revolution, and rural archives 
contain many such marriage deeds, particulars of property 
on either side being minuted with what appears to us 
whimsical exactness. 

" Eugenie Grandet " illustrates other articles of the 
Code, these, strange to say, still in force. 

Although a propertied woman, Madame Grandet is 
described as never having a penny to call her own. Miserly 
instinct and habits of petty tyranny were here backed up 
by the law. The usurer was strictly within his right, and 
to-day, as when Balzac wrote three-quarters of a century 


ago, French husbands enjoy the control of their wives' 
income. If Frenchwomen in the spirit exercise " all the 
rule, one empire," in the letter they remain under marital 
tutelage, the Roman patria potestas. 

" A married Frenchwoman never enjoys her fortune till 
she dies," once observed an old French lady to me " that 
is to say, she cannot touch a fraction without her husband's 
consent ; but if childless, unfortunately my own case, she 
can will it as she pleases." 

" We cannot buy a silk dress with our own money till 
we first get our husband's leave," another friend said to me 
only the other day. Of course, in most cases the defects 
of such legislation are remedied by character and the 
fitness of things. 

Frenchwomen are naturally very authoritative, French- 
men are naturally very amiable, and in the highest degree 
amenable to feminine influence. When the household 
purse is too tightly gripped, it is most often in the interests 
of children, and not from motives of sheer avarice. And 
we must ever bear in mind one fact. The ancient Gaul 
feared only the fall of the heavens : the modern Frenchman 
trembles only before an empty purse ! On the legal aspect 
of this subject a friend writes to me : 

" You will ask how comes it about that our code has 
proclaimed (fdict/) what is called the incapacity of married 
women ? Here are the reasons furnished by commentators 
of the Code. 

" Legislators consider that in wedlock, as in every other 
well-organized association, an undivided seat of authority 
can alone prevent confusion and discord. Such undivided 
authority the law has naturally placed in the hands of the 
husband. At the same time, abuse of authority in financial 
matters has been carefully guarded against. Thus, a pro- 
pertied wife with cause to complain of her husband's 
stewardship can obtain judicial separation." 

A few years ago a bill was laid before the Chamber in 


purport answering to the Married Woman's Property Act 
of Victorian legislation that is to say, an Act securing to 
married women the absolute control of their own earnings. 
The project has not yet become law, and is thus commented 
upon by the correspondent just cited 

" In my own opinion, the bill you mention, referred to 
by M. Rambaud in his ' History of French Civilization,' has 
slender chance of being voted. Should it take effect, an 
unscrupulous wife would be at liberty to appropriate her 
entire earnings, spending upon herself what ought to be 
contributed to the family budget," (la communautf). 

There is a good deal to be said for this view of the case. 
I suppose few instances occur in England of a married 
couple entering domestic service, their child or children 
being put out to nurse. In France the custom is universal. 
Not only is the household work of Parisian and provincial 
hotels very generally shared by man and wife, but in 
private families a husband will often be employed as butler, 
coachman, or valet de chambre, his wife acting as cook or 
madame's maid. Both naturally look forward to setting 
up a home sooner or later ; both should naturally economize 
for the purpose. But up to a certain point the Code Civil 
compels economy, and forces parents to make sacrifices on 
behalf of their children. 

Here let me explain that interesting law called la dette 
alimentaire, or material obligation, to which we have no 
equivalent in England. Specified by Articles 205, 206, and 
207 of the Code Civil, the dette alimentaire not only renders 
parents responsible for the shelter, food, and clothing of 
their children, but proclaims the charge reciprocal. And 
as sons and daughters entering another family on marriage 
are considered members of that family, they are similarly 
answerable. Sons and daughters-in-law must pay the dette 
alimentaire either in money or kind to a widowed mother- 
in-law, her second marriage relieving them of the burden. 
A burden without doubt it is sometimes felt, and in one of 


Guy de Maupassant's most revolting stories he brings out 
this aspect. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the 
mutual obligation immensely strengthens family ties, and 
at the same time adds to the dignity of humble life. What 
Frenchman capable of earning wages would willingly see 
his parents dependent upon charity ? 

Again, the dette alimentaire is equally binding on 
parents of illegitimate children. Alike father and mother 
are compelled by law to feed, clothe, and shelter their 

The dette d? Education concerns itself with parental duties 
only. The State provides the best possible education for 
every child born upon French soil, but on parents is laid 
the charge of profiting by such opportunities, and of adding 
moral and physical training. 

Recent emendations of the Code have considerably 
modified those sections dealing with women. Thus, a law 
passed in 1895 enables a married woman to open a separate 
savings-bank account, and to withdraw any sums so put 
by, provided the husband offers no opposition, such opposi- 
tion being rendered all but ineffective by clauses that 

By virtue of an anterior law (1886), a wife can ensure 
a small annuity for old age, the instalments placed from 
time to time requiring no marital authorization. It will 
be seen that a marked tendency of recent legislation has 
been its favourableness towards the sex. I have elsewhere 
mentioned the important right recently conferred upon 
tradesmen, that of electing delegates to the Chambers of 

Classified by the Code with minors and idiots, it was 
not till 1897 that a French woman could witness a deed. 
To-day she enjoys privileges for which her English sisters 
sigh in vain. 

By an Act of 1900, women in France were admitted to 
the bar. 


Another and equally recent law may perhaps have been 
suggested by English precedent. By an Act of December, 
1900, heads of business houses employing female assistants 
were compelled to supply precisely as many seats as the 
number of the employed. Formerly, as here, young women 
were on their feet all day long, to the deterioration of health 
and physique. 

I will now say a few words upon the enforced division 
of property. I do not suppose that many readers will agree 
with an old friend of mine, a Burgundian of the old school. 
Some years ago we had been warmly discussing the con- 
trasted systems, English freedom of testacy and the restric- 
tive measures of France. 

"No," he said, shaking his head; "nothing you say 
will ever convince me that it is right to will away property 
from one's flesh and blood. And," he added, with an air of 
entire conviction, " one thing I am sure of the knowledge 
that young people must inherit their parents' fortune, and 
probably that of uncles and aunts also, makes them more 

Certainly a quite opposite impression is gained from 
Balzac's great series ; nor do Maupassant and later 
writers force such an opinion upon the mind. Most 
French folks, I fancy, would agree with my nepotious 
gentilhomme. Anyhow, they would probably endorse the 
obligation of enriching, not only sons and daughters to 
the exclusion of every other claim, but also nephews and 

I well remember an instance in point. An acquaintance 
of many years' standing, for whom I entertained great 
respect, the manager of a large Paris hotel, was seized with 
mortal sickness, a slow but fatal malady rendering him 
quite unfit for the bodily and mental wear and tear of such 
a position. 

" Why do you not give up and rest, dear Monsieur 
R ? " I ventured to say one day. " You have no wife 


or children depending on you, cJter monsieur. Why work 
so hard when ill and unfit for anything ? " 

" I have nephews and nieces," was the reply. 

There, then, was a rich man battling with pain and lassi- 
tude in order that young men and women, well able to earn 
their own living, should be enriched. 

A few words about enforced testamentation will not 
here be inappropriate. 

Like the daughters of Zelophehad, French girls inherit 
the paternal patrimony. If the Code Civil treats the sex 
as irresponsible beings, the strictest justice is dealt out to 
them with regard to material exigencies. Share and share 
alike is the excellent rule laid down by French legists. 
But parents are by no means prohibited from befriending 
philanthropic or other causes. A certain testamentary 
latitude is allowed to both father and mother. 

Thus, whilst the father of dn only child, whether son or 
daughter, cannot deprive that child of the half of his fortune, 
the other half he can bequeath as he will. If there are two 
children, each is entitled to a third of the paternal estate, 
the remainder being at the testator's disposal. The same 
rules apply to a propertied mother. 

To children, French law has ever shown tenderness. 
Thus, children born out of wedlock are naturalized by the 
subsequent marriage of parents, and recent legislation 
(March, 1896) has favoured them in the matter of property. 
Anteriorally, provided that an illegitimate child had been 
legally acknowledged by either parent, the law awarded 
him a third of what would have been his portion but for 
the bar sinister. By a recent law this share is now the half 
of what would accrue to a legitimate son or daughter, two- 
thirds if no brothers or sisters exist born in wedlock, and 
the entire parental fortune falls to him in case of no direct 
descendants remaining. 

A wonderful study is that Gallo-Roman Codex ! 

Like the world-encircling serpent of Scandinavian 


mythology, the Code Civil, with bands of triple brass, 
with a drastic noli me tangere, binds family life into a 
compact, indissoluble whole, renders unassailable, impreg- 
nable, that sacred ark, that palladium of national strength, 
healthfulness, and vitality, the ancestral, the patriarchal 
home ! 



OUTSIDE royal and official circles, etiquette sits 
lightly on English shoulders. Christmas boxes 
to children, servants, and postmen are certainly 
regarded in the light of an obligation. Here what may 
be called domestic subjection to the calendar begins and 
ends. We may notice or pass over the New Year as we 
will. In France, it is otherwise. New Year's etiquette 
is surely the heaviest untaxed burden ever laid upon the 
shoulders of a civilized people. From the Elyse"e down to 
the mansarde, from the President of the Republic down 
to the dustman, every successive First of January is 
memorialized with almost religious ceremonial. The Pro- 
tocol is not more rigidly followed, the Code Civil itself is 
not more precise, than French etiquette of the New Year. 
It is then that the bureaucratic and military world respect- 
fully salute their chiefs ; it is then that family bonds are 
re-knit in closest union ; it is then that our neighbours 
bring out their visiting lists and balance the debit and 
credit of social intercourse. With ourselves the dropping 
of an acquaintance is a ticklish and disagreeable business. 
They manage these things better over the water. Not to 
receive a New Year's call, or, if distance prevents, a visiting 
card, is the indisputable, the recognized indication that 
sender and addressee are henceforth to be strangers. 

French etiquette of the New Year may be divided 
under three heads, that of etrennes, or gifts ; secondly, 



visits ; thirdly, cards. The first is obligatory in the case 
of friends and acquaintances as well as relations and sub- 
ordinates, and requires considerable thought. Custom has 
pretty well settled the question of gifts in money to 
concierge, or portress, postmen, telegraph-boy, tradesmen's 
assistants, and domestic servants. Thus the modest 
householder occupying a tiny flat and eking out an income 
of three or four thousand francs (120 to 160) yearly, 
must reckon upon a minimum outlay of a hundred francs 
(4) on New Year's Day, larger incomes being proportion- 
ately mulcted. Heads of business houses pay away large 
sums in gifts of money. A young lady, the experienced 
manageress of a large establishment, lately told me that 
the New Year's gifts from her employer had often been 
several hundred francs. As for her part, she was in the 
habit of giving twenty francs to one relation, ten to 
another, and so on, besides making presents to friends 
and liberally tipping underlings, she could hardly have 
been richer for the largesse. We are in the habit of con- 
sidering our neighbours as a thrifty, even parsimonious 
people. On the contrary, New Year's expenditure proves 
them to be the most lavish in the world. 

The settling of accounts with house porters, telegraph 
messengers, and one's household is easy. Precedent and 
means regulate the scale of liberality. Much more onerous 
is the selection of purchases, especially those to be offered 
outside the family circle. Here etiquette is rigorously 
explicit, the rules for receiving being as strictly laid down 
as those for giving. To persons occupying a decidedly 
superior rank, nothing must arrive on the occasion of the 
New Year, but game, flowers, or fruit are permissible later 
on. A man in the habit of dining at a friend's house may 
offer his hostess flowers and her children bonbons, the 
classic tribute. Only relations and intimate friends are 
privileged to present folks with anything useful ; trinkets, 
plate, furniture, or even millinery. Thus, one lady may 


say to another, " Do help me out of a dilemma. I wish 
to send you a souvenir, but have not the least idea of what 
it should be. Mention something that you would find 
really useful." This rule is admirably practical, and might 
very well be carried out here. 

When a New Year's gift is presented by the donor in 
person, it is the height of bad taste to lay aside the 
packet unopened. The offering must be looked at, admired, 
and, whether acceptable or no, rapturously acknowledged, 
so at least says a leading authority on the subject. And, 
adds the writer, the giver of a modest present should 
receive warmer thanks than those who have sent us some- 
thing really magnificent. The former may be ashamed of 
his offering, the latter is well aware that he has given 
liberal money's worth. 

We next come to visits, and here if possible etiquette 
is more stringent, more complicated than with regard to 

In observing French manners and customs, we must 
ever bear in mind that family feeling, like the mainspring 
of a clock, regulates every movement of the social body. 
When our great brother poets wrote 

" The name of Friend is more than family 
Or all the world beside," 

they uttered a sentiment that might be applicable in classic 
Rhodes, but could have no appropriateness on the New 
Year's Day to France. Here is a nice indication of this 
supremacy, the predominance of family feeling over every 
other. New Year's visits to parents and grandparents are 
paid on the last day of the old year. By such anticipation 
filial respect and affection are emphasized. Lejour de Van 
indeed belongs to the home circle. Outside the official 
world ceremonial visits are relegated to a later day of the 
week or even month. " A visit on New Year's Day," 
writes another authority, "is only admissible officially 


among those persons nearly related to each other, or who 
are on terms of closest intimacy in a word, who can ex- 
change heartfelt effusions, conventional commonplaces 
being inappropriate. 

The family New Year's dinner is a custom still very 
generally kept up, one or two intimate friends being also 
invited. Even during periods of mourning, when every 
other social reunion is out of the question, these 
dinners will take place, under such circumstances being 
melancholy enough. Unlike our own Christmas dinners, 
there is no statutory bill of fare. It is quite other- 
wise with the midnight supper of the Reveillon, or 
Watch Night, when a turkey stuffed with truffles or 
chestnuts, black pudding, fritters, and champagne are 
always forthcoming, and with Twelfth Day and its cake. 
The children's festival may be celebrated any day before 
February, whilst private persons may also pay their New 
Year's visits, so-called, throughout January, the official 
world is bound to strictest etiquette. From the highest 
functionary of the State to the lowest, alike civilians and 
soldiers must personally visit superiors on New Year's 
Day. Then, with many a secret objurgation, we may 
be sure, hard-worked, over-tired officers have to don full 
military dress, order a carriage and drive to the Elyse"e 
and the Ministry of War. I say with many secret 
objurgations, because French officers, as a rule, do not 
care to wear uniform except when absolutely obliged, the 
ordinary attire of a gentleman being so much more 
comfortable. Then the modestly paid village schoolmaster 
screws out money for a pair of light kid gloves, and spick 
and span presents himself at Prefecture or Mairie. And 
then lady principals of lycees for girls have to sit in 
solemn state whilst parents and guardians pay grateful 
homage. Those poor lady principals ! I well remember 
a New Year's afternoon spent with my friend, Mile. 
B , directrice of a public girls' school at Nantes. For 


hours they streamed in, grandparents, fathers and mothers, 
uncles and aunts, all gracefully going through the arduous 
duty, a duty by no means to be shirked on either side. 

But habit is everything. Neither Mile. B nor her 

sisters, we may be sure, resented the obligation. From 
end to end of France the same kind of ceremonial was 
taking place, every member of the administrative body, 
like mediaeval feudatories doing homage to his chief, in 
the official as in the domestic circle, bonds being thus 
tightened, fresh seals set upon mutual interdependence, 
As a stone thrown into water sends out wider and wider 
ripples, so the Presidential reception is the signal for 
similar manifestations throughout French dominions, New 
Year's Day and its observance symbolizing and strength- 
ening patriotism and devotion to the Republic. 

We now come to visiting cards, a most important sub- 
ject. The etiquette of the visiting card, indeed, demands 
a paper to itself. We will, however, strictly confine 
ourselves to its use on New Year's Day, or, more properly 
speaking, during the first two or three weeks of the year. 

The exchange of these missives is at this time imper- 
ative, not only among official ranks, but also among friends 
and acquaintances prevented by distance from making a 
personal call. Equally stringent are the rules concerning 
dispatch. Thus, as in the case of family visits, precedence 
indicates respect, whilst the merely social obligation may 
be fulfilled throughout the month of January, no such 
margin is allowed in the official world. Functionaries and 
administrative subordinates must on no account defer 
posting cards until December is out. Such marks of 
attention should be posted so as to reach their destination 
too soon rather than too late. And no matter how humble 
the position of the sender, his compliment is scrupulously 
returned. Omission of this duty would not only betoken 
ill-breeding, but want of considerateness, and in certain 
cases would even constitute an affront. 


Remembrances in the shape of New Year's cards often 
take touching form. For instance, some years since I 
made the acquaintance of a weaver's family in a little 
Champagne town, and before leaving added a trifle to 
the tire-lire or money-box of the youngest child, a boy 
at school. He is now doing his three years' military 
service, and regularly sends me a New Year's card dated 
from the barracks ; often, indeed, those who can ill afford 
it indulge in printed visiting cards expressly for this use. 
Heterogeneous is the collection deposited in my own 
letter-box during the month of January, and from remotest 
corners they come, each bearing the legalized greeting. 
The French post-office is the most amiable in the world, 
and relaxes its rules so that folks may greet each other at 
small expense. Ordinarily a visiting card having writing 
on it, instead of passing with a halfpenny stamp, would be 
charged as a letter. What are called mots impersonnels 
(" impersonal words "), five in number, are allowed on the 
occasion of the New Year. Here are one or two examples 
copied from last January's budget : Vaux bien respectueux, 
bans souhaits, meilleurs souhaits et amities, souvenirs con- 
fraternels et bans -voeux. ("Very respectful wishes, Good 
wishes, Best wishes and remembrances, Fraternal re- 
membrances and good wishes.") 

The visiting card transmitted by halfpenny post may 
to some appear an insignificant and inadequate testimony 
alike of respect, consideration, and affection. But it is not 
so. Michelet described the beauty of Frenchwomen as 
made up of little nothings. So the charm and stability 
of French life, considered from the social aspect, may be 
described as a sum total of small, almost infinitesimal, 
gracious things. 



I TAKE it that the entente cordiale will resemble a 
prosy, middle-aged French marriage, not a scintilla 
of romance existing on either side, material interests 
being guaranteed, no loophole left for nagging, much less 
litigation. Stolid bridegroom and beautiful partner will jog 
on comfortably enough, perhaps discovering some day, 
after the manner of M. Jourdain, that they have been the 
best possible friends all their lives without knowing it ! 

It is a consummation devoutly to be wished, and which 
the Anglo-French Convention has surely brought within 
the range of possibility. Like naughty, ill-bred little boy 
and girl making faces and nasardes at each other across 
the road, for years John Bull and Madame la Republique 
seemed bent on coming to fisticuffs. By great good luck the 
road was not easy to cross, and now grown older and wiser, 
the pair at least blow kisses to each other and pass on. 

So great has occasionally been the tension between 
England and France that even cool heads predicted a 
catastrophe. In a letter addressed to myself in February, 
1885, and written from his home near Autun, Mr. Hamer- 
ton wrote, "I have been vexed for some time by the 
tendency to jealous hostility between France and England. 
I have thought sometimes of trying to found an Anglo- 
French society, the members of which should simply 
engage themselves to do their best on all occasions to 
soften the harsh feeling between the two nations. I dare 



say some literary people would join such a league, Swin- 
burne and Tennyson, for instance, and some influential 
politicians, like Bright, might be counted upon. Peace 
and war hang on such trifles, that a society such as I am 
imagining might possibly on some occasions have influence 
enough to prevent war." 

And in his work, " French and English," Mr. Hamerton 
touched a prevailingly pessimistic note. Anything like 
cordial friendship between the two nations he regarded as 
pure chimera ; we must be more than satisfied, he seemed 
to think, with civility and politeness. But are not civility 
and politeness ancillary to friendship ? Might not much 
of the bitterness formerly characterizing Anglo-French 
relations be imputed to absence of these qualities ? If 
the respective Governments have here been at fault, the 
same may be said of the people. Alike historians, 
novelists, journalists, and writers generally, on both sides 
of the Channel, have been guilty of flagrant indiscretion. 
Whenever a stage villain was wanted by one of our own 
story-tellers, France must supply the type. Dickens fell 
into the absurd habit, and, as one of his French admirers 
lately observed to me, the entire suppression of M. Blandois 
from " Little Dorrit " would in no wise injure the story, 
rather the reverse ; whilst the picture of Mademoiselle 
Hortense revenging an affront by walking barefoot through 
a mile or two of wet grass is the one artistic blot on 
"Bleak House," the incident being grossly farcical, and 
faulty as characterization. 

French novelists have followed the same course. The 
villain of " The Three Musketeers " must, of course, be an 
Englishwoman. Balzac piled up a Pelion on Ossa of 
Britannic vices when portraying "Miladi Dudley." Even 
an elegant writer like Victor Cherbuliez, when in want of 
an odious termagant for a story, gave her an English 
name. " Gyp " has made many novels the vehicle of virulent 
anti-English feeling. 

Other writers in both countries have taken the same 
tone. In a work entitled " Le Colosse aux pieds d'argile," 
published five years since, a certain M. Jean de la Poul- 
laine described England as a country wholly decadent, a 
civilization fast falling into rottenness and decay. For 
years, as editress of the Nouvelle Revue, Madame Adam 
preached war to the knife with England. The superfine 
and disguisedly sensual writer known as Pierre Loti shows 
his disapproval of perfide Albion by ignoring her very 
existence in a work upon India. 

Counter strokes have not been wanting on this side of 
the Channel. A few years back appeared, from an eminent 
publishing firm, an abominable book entitled "France 
and her Republic," by a writer named Hurlbert. And 
most inauspiciously, it is to be hoped, for the work itself, 
has just appeared a posthumous medley of abuse and 
vituperation by the late Mr. Vandam. Of journalism it 
is surely unnecessary to speak. On both sides of the 
Channel journalistic influence has been for the most part 
the reverse of conciliatory. This is all the more to be 
regretted, as many folks, English as well as French, read 
their newspapers and little else. 

Historians have done much more than novelists and 
miscellaneous writers to keep alive international prejudices. 
In a passage of profound wisdom our great philosopher 
Locke insisted on the power, indeed, one might almost 
say ineradicableness, of early associations. " I notice the 
present argument (on the association of ideas)," he said, 
"that those who have children, or the charge of their 
education, would think it worth their while diligently to 
watch and carefully prevent the undue connection of ideas 
in the minds of young people." How many well-intentioned 
English folks have imbibed anti-French feeling from the 
pages of Mrs. Markham ! Until quite recently, baneful 
tradition has been sedulously nursed on French soil as 
well. In their valuable histories Michelet and Henri 


Martin seem of set purpose to accentuate French grievances 
against England alike in the past and in modern times. 

It has been left to living writers in some measure to 
correct these impressions. M. Rambaud, ex-minister of 
public instruction, has here rendered immense service. 
Among other things, he tells his country-people (" Histoire 
de la Civilization Frangaise") of the following home- 
truths: "During the so-called English wars the worst evils 
were wrought by Frenchmen. It was Robert dArtois 
and Geoffrey d'Harcourt who provoked the first invasion 
of Edward III. It was with an army partly made up 
of Gascons that the Black Prince won the battle of 
Poitiers; a Duke of Burgundy threw open the gates of 
Paris to the English, a Norman bishop and Norman 
judges brought about the burning of Jeanne dArc." And 
in an excellent little manual for the young, this writer, 
aided by the first living authority on the Revolution, 
M. Aulard, has re-written history in the same rigidly 
impartial spirit. 

Here, too, judicial accounts of the Revolution are 
gradually supplanting the highly coloured travesties of 
former days. In no sense contemplated as historic 
retribution, the inevitable outcome of political and social 
corruption, the French Revolution was treated by English 
writers from one point of view only, that of sympathy with 
three or four victims. The fate of Marie Antoinette and 
her hapless son, regarded simply and solely as resulting 
from popular hatred, has served to blind generations of 
English readers to the other side of that great tragedy 
the sufferings and wrongs, not of a handful of high-born 
ladies and gentlemen, but of millions, of an entire people. 

Carlyle's long-drawn-out rhapsody struck a new note. 
Of late years the revolutionary epoch and its leaders, the 
makers of modern France, have been dealt with in a 
wholly different spirit. I need only refer to such works as 
Mr, A. Beesly's life of Danton and Mr. Morse Stephens' 


studies in the same field. Two French writers of two 
generations ago wrote with knowledge and sympathy of 
English life and character, Philarete Chasles, who describes 
early years spent in England (Memoires, 1874, etc.), and 
Prosper Merime'e, who, in a recently published volume of 
correspondence, rebuts the notion that Merrie England 
is a thing of the past and tradition. And the works of 
M. Max Leclerc, on English collegiate life, of M. 
Demolins on our systems of education generally, and 
of MM. Chevrillon and Fion, have been incalculably 
useful in modifying French views. 

Philosophy, as might be expected, has generally treated 
England and the English people from a judicial stand- 
point. The works of M. Coste and other philosophic 
writers should be read by all interested in this subject. 
M. Coste ("Sociologie Objective," 1897), divides social 
evolution into five stages, the fifth embodying the highest 
as yet realized, perhaps as yet conceivable. England, 
and England alone, has reached this fifth stage, some other 
States, notably France and Germany, following in the 
same direction. 

According to this writer, English civilization is 
characterized by individualism and a total absence of 
caste. The last-mentioned and dominant feature of 
primitive societies has vanished from England, whilst 
in France the reverse is the case. "It is impossible to 
deny," writes our author (1899), "that caste (I' esprit de 
classe) is a survival in France ; at any rate, it exists in 
a latent condition, ready to be called forth by any outburst 
of popular passion. A hundred years after the great 
Revolution, instead of individualizing, we classify ; we 
are constantly arraigning bodies of men instead of 
regarding them as entities. The Panama and Dreyfus 
agitation are instances in point. Incrimination has been 
collective. Whilst this survival remains, we cannot say 
that we have reached the highest stage of civilization." 


At a time when anti-Protestant feeling in France 
had almost attained the proportion of anti-Semitism, 
M. Coste did not hesitate to pen these words, before 
quoted by me : " France missed her reformation three 
hundred years ago, and is the sufferer thereby to this 
day." And M. Fouillee, his distinguished contemporary, 
following the same train of thought, writes, "We must 
admit that to Roman Catholicism with much good we owe 
great evils," adding, after some profound remarks on the 
attitude of the Romish Church towards certain moral 
questions, " It has been justly remarked that the temper- 
ance cause makes much more progress in Protestant 
countries, where it is essentially allied to religion " 
("Psychologic du peuple Franais," 1899). 

The truth of the matter is, that up to the present 
time English and French have as little understood each 
other as if they dwelt on different planets. 

It has often happened to me to be the first English 
person French country folks had ever seen. 

" Do you Protestants believe in God ? " once asked of 
me a young woman, caretaker of an Auvergnat chateau, 
the historic ruins of Polignac. 

"There is a law in your country strictly prohibiting 
the purchase of land by the peasants, is there not ? " 
I was once asked by a Frenchman. 

And when, chatting one day with a travelling acquaint- 
ance in Burgundy, I contrasted the number of English 
tourists in France with the paucity of French tourists in 
England, she observed sharply 

" The reason is simple enough. France is a beautiful 
country, and England a hideous one." 

Whereupon I put the question, had madame ever 
crossed the Channel ; to which she answered somewhat 
contemptuously, No. England was evidently not worth 

My late friend, the genial but quizzical Max O'Rell 


once told me that an old Breton lady, in all seriousness, 
put the following question to him : 

"Tell me, M. Blouet, you who know England so well, 
are there any railways in that country ? " 

It is strange that, whilst so little understanding us 
as a nation, our French neighbours should have paid 
us the perpetual compliment of imitation. 

Anglomania, indeed, so far back as the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, was a force mightier than the 
will of the greatest autocrat the world has ever seen the 
Sun King himself. For years Louis XIV. had thundered 
in vain against coiffures d la Fontanges, the pyramidal 
headdress seen in the portraits of Madame de Maintenon. 
In 1714, an English lady wearing her hair dressed low 
was introduced at Versailles. Straightway, as if by 
magic, the cumbersome and disfiguring superstructures 
fell, the king being enraged that " an English hussy " 
had more influence in such matters than himself. 

It was more especially after the Restoration that 
Anglicisms, the word as well as the thing, were naturalized 
in France bifteck, rosbif, turf, grog, jockey, and many 
others, the numbers increasing from time to time. Many 
of these words have been admitted by the Academy 
into the French vocabulary. Thus, flanelle from flannel, 
macadam, cottage, drain, square, meeting inter alia received 
Academic sanction in 1878. The best contemporary 
writers often use English words not as yet naturalized, 
without italics or inverted commas. Thus Cherbuliez 
wrote of the hall instead of le vestibule in one of his 
novels ; M. Brieux makes a lady conjugate the verb 
luncher in his play Les Remplaqantes ; flirt, croquet, garden 
party, five o'clock, and a variety of similar expressions 
are employed as if belonging to the French tongue. 
English names and pet names have an especial attraction 
for French ears. The hero of " Deux Vies," a recent novel 
by the brothers Margueritte, is "Charlie," instead of Charles. 


Jack is another diminutive in high favour, whilst Jane is 
persistently substituted for the far prettier Jeanne. Neither 
political pin-pricks nor social snubs on either side have in 
the very least affected this amiable weakness for all things 
English. For years past the word dtjeimer has gone out 
of fashion. No one in society would dream of calling the 
midday meal by that hour ; and Society now takes its 
afternoon tea as regularly as ourselves. I even learn that 
certain aristocratic ladies have inaugurated a family break- 
fast after English fashion, the first meal of the day being 
taken in company, instead of in bed or in one's bedroom, 
the hostess dressed as with ourselves for lunch in fact, for 
the day. 

It was the English family breakfast-table that most 
charmed Rousseau when a guest here. And I should not 
be surprised if ere long papa, mamma, and their little family 
of one or two will sit down to matutinal coffee, perhaps 
adopting the inevitable eggs and bacon ! 

On both sides of the Channel, reasoning and reason- 
able folks have long desired the cordial Anglo-French 
relations now happily established by the initiative of King 

So far back as 1885 a retired notary and landed pro- 
prietor of Bordeaux wrote to me, " We do not at all know 
your country people a misfortune for two nations assuredly 
differing in natural gifts and qualities, but each worthy 
of each other's esteem. Placed as both are in the van- 
guard of progress by their free institutions, their literature, 
science, arts, and economic conditions, any conflict between 
France and England would not only prove the greatest 
misfortune to the two nations, but would retard the progress 
of civilization for centuries. I am far from apprehending 
such a catastrophe, but we should at all costs avoid 
petty and ignoble misunderstandings ; above all, we should 
encourage to the utmost intercourse by means of associa- 
tions, syndicates, international festivals, and the like. The 


better we learn to know each other, the greater will become 
mutual esteem ; and from esteem to friendship is but a 
step." The writer had never visited our country, and his 
acquaintance with English people was limited. His views, 
I am convinced, have long been shared by vast numbers 
of Frenchmen in all ranks and of all conditions. 

Politeness and civility ! If by the exercise of such 
habits peace can be secured in the domestic sphere, how 
incalculable is their influence upon international affairs ! 
Just as a book is misjudged if read with passion or pre- 
conceived antipathy, so much more imperative is the 
judicial mood in appraising the many-faceted, subtle, 
French character. 

It is my belief that the fruits of the entente cordiale 
will be a desire for mutual sympathy and a gradually 
developed mood of forbearance, with the result that 
French and English will recognize the best in each other, 
their eyes not often, as hitherto, being persistently fixed 
on the worst. I will precede the colophon with a citation 
from M. Coste, a writer already cited. 

" We come into the world citizens of a State we have 
not ourselves chosen. Family ties, education, language, 
tradition, customs, and early association implant in our 
hearts a love of country and create a passionate desire to 
defend and serve our fatherland. But as by degrees civili- 
zation advances and international relations become more 
general, an adopted country will usually be added to 
that of birth ; the language, literature, and arts of that 
land will become familiar ; ties, alike commercial and social, 
will be contracted. Surplus capital not needed at home 
will there be spent or invested. Such an adopted land 
should be no matter of chance, but based upon mature 
social considerations. Only thus can a social ideal become 
in a measure, reality." 

To how many of us has France already become a home 
of adoption choice not perhaps based upon philosophic 


grounds ! But whether respectively attracted to French or 
English shores by business or pleasure, in quest of health 
or new ideas, every traveller, no matter how humble, let us 
hope may henceforth be regarded as a dove from the ark, 
waver aloft of thrice-welcome olive branch. Anticipatory 
of pontifical, aerial or subterrene means of transport, in 
another and higher sense, may these annual hosts indis- 
solubly link the two great democracies of the West ; bridge 
the Channel for ever and a day ! 


ACQUAINTANCES, dropping of, 285 
Adam, Madame, cited, 293 
Agricultural districts, depopulation 

of, 76, 195 

Orders of Merit for, l$i 

Professors of, 149-152 

Schools of, 149 
Aicard, Jean, cited, 59, 60 ; quoted, 


Airy, Sir G. B., quoted, 265 
Anglo-mania, 297 
Animals, cruelty to, 264 
Arbitration, zeal for, 1 58 
Archives, provincial, 192-194 
Arithmetic, teaching of, 218 
Army : see Officers 
Aspe, Vallee d', 140-145 
Aulard, M., cited, 294 


Attitude towards, 46-47 
Nurseries for, impossibility of, 


Position of, in the family, 12, 44- 

45, 48, SO 

Wet nurses for, 45-46, 95 
Balzac cited, 176, 196, 272, 277, 282, 


Bathing, sea, 39, 40 
Baths, lo-n 

Bazin, Rene, cited, 46, 195 
Bedrooms, 1-3 
Beds, 3 

Beesly, Mr. A. H., cited, 294 

Benefit societies, 30, 31 

Bentzon, Madame, cited, 86, 102, 

147, 258 

Bergeret, M., cited, 179 

Etiquette of, 82 

Interval between marriage and, 57, 


Bodichon, Madame, 228 
Bon Pasteur Institutions, 198 
"Bonnes Meres," 274-275 
Boutmy, M., cited, 264 

Characteristics of, 66-68 

Education of : see under Education 

Recreations of, 61-62 

Reformatories for, see that title 
Bread, consumption of, 22, 29 
Breakfast, 3, 298 
Bridesmaids, 86 
Brieux, M., cited, 46, 297 

Family council in, 240 

Illiteracy in, 189 
Bureaucracy, 93, 148 
Burials, 212 
Butter, 34 


Hours for, 6 

New-comers, by, 8 

New Year's, 287-289 
Carlyle, Thomas, cited, 294 
Chaperonage, 52, 80, 166 




Artistic taste, 171 
Avarice, 34-35, 112, 159, 195, 256 
Brilliancy, 126 
Caution, 149-150 
Clannishness, 38, 77-78, 87, 100, 

242, 287 

Concentration, 89, 218 
Critical faculty, 7, 15,48, 68, 115, 

122, 152, 183, 262-263 
Decorum, instinct of, 54, 167 
Delicacy, 256-257 
Economy, 239, 255 
Forethoughtfulness, 205, 256 
Friendship, genius for, 2 1 1, 260, 


Ideas, devotion to, 266 
Indifference to appearances, 17, 20, 

129, 159 

Intellectuality, 158 
Leisureliness, 149, 258-259 
Litigiousness, 155, 156 
Neatness, 31 
Practicality, 266 
Reasoning, passion for, 230 and 

note, 263 
Reputation, care for, 20, 52, 87, 

104, 129 

Reserve, 254-255 
Science, aptitude for, 265 
Self-depreciation, 148, 254 
Seriousness, 169, 253 
Sociability of individuals, 260 
Thrift, 17-18, 32, ui-112, 121, 

159, 170, 195. 99. 205, 256 
Toilette, care for, 20, 25, 26, 263 
Unsentimentality, 55, 260, 272 
Unsociability of neighbours, 255 
Vicarious emotion, taste for, 271 
Warm-bloodedness, 23 
Chasles, Philarete, 269; cited, 60, 


Cheese, mixture of, 34 
Cherbuliez, Victor, 6 ; cited, 292, 

Chevrillon, M., cited, 295 

Children (see also Babies, Boys, 

Bequests to, legal minimum of, 283 

Delicacy before, 262 

Fare of, 48 

Foundlings, 247 

Indulgence of, 47, 49, 89, 95-96, 
196, 232, 242 

Natural law as to, 243 ; legitimiza- 
tion of, 248, 283 

Nurseries for, impossibility of, 49 

Posthumous, 245-246 

Study of, by parents, 215 

Widows secondary to, 81 

Wine-drinking by, 48 
Citeaux, reformatory at, 237 
Code Civil 

Natural children, provisions as to, 

Refractory children, provisions as 
to, 229, 237 

Women, provisions as to, 178, 243, 

246, 278, 279, 281 
Colonization, 94-95 
Comedie Franaise, 182 
Comic papers, 261-262 
Comme ilfaut, meaning of, 1 59 

Freemasonry of le haut commerce, 
214-215, 218 

Honour, standard of, 259 

Parliament of, 178 

Women engaged in, 165-178 
Concierges, 24, 103 
Confortable, le, 105 

Attitude towards, 72-74 

Exemptions from, 75, 76 

Hardship of, 70-72 

Inconveniences of, 69-70, 74 

Laws relating to, 74-76 

Nursing duties, 137, 209 
Conseildefamille: see Family Council 
Conseil de tutelle, 247 
"Constance," 147 
Convent pensions, 99, 101 



Convent schools, 52, 186-187, 2I 9 
Convents, 100, 101 
Conversational powers, 66-67 
Cookery, 15, 33-34, 54, 202 ; barrack 

fare, 71 

Cost of living : see Expenditure 
Coste, M., cited, 295-296, 299 
Country districts, depopulation of, 76, 


Country houses 

General possession of, 36-37 

Out-door meals at, 6 
Country life 

Monotony of, 271 

Unsociability of, 160 
Courtship, 80 
Couvreur, A., cited, 275 

DAUDET, ALPHONSE, cited, 4, 147, 

269, 272 

Daudet, Madame, 49-50 
De Maupassant cited, 191, 199, 269, 

281, 282 

Decease, intimation of, 78, 93 

Formality of, 5-6 

Lunch a name for, 5, 6, 14, 201, 

Serving of, 14 
Demetz, M., 228, 230 
Demolins, M., educational work of, 

63-66 ; writings of, 295 ; cited, on 

parsimony, 17, 35, 255-256 ; quoted, 

on conscription, 74 

Deliberations of, 118 

Doctors among, 116 

Ecclesiastics among, 115-116 

Political groups among, 114-115 

Privileges of, 113 

Professions represented among, 114, 

Remuneration of, 113; attitude 
towards, 117 

Suffrage for, 118-119 
Deschanel, Paul, 118 

Dette alimentaire, 196, 280-281 

"Deux Vies," 297 

Dickens, Charles, 260, 272, 292 

Diffamation, 156 


Importance of, 6-7, 14-15 

" Meal " distinguished from, 14 

New Year's, 288 
Divorce, Uft, 184 

Fees of, 116, 129; etiquette of 

paying, 131 
Nuns as, 126-128 
Position of, 132 

Deputies, as, 116 

Number of (1900), 129 note 
" Donatienne," 46 
Dramatic teaching at conservatoire, 


Drawing-rooms, 5 

Cost of, 25, 170 

Economy of, 25, 26, 263 

Importance of, 20, 25, 26, 263 

Men's, amount spent on, 130 

Mourning clothes, 31 
Drink, 32, 275 
Drugs, cost of, 23-24 
Durny, M., 60 

Ecu D'OR, patronne of, 213-218 

Arithmetic, teaching of, 218 
Boys, schools for 
Abroad, 64-65 
Indictment of, 59-61, 63 
Jesuit colleges, 64 
Vanves, lycee of, 62 
Verneuil, Ecole des Roches at, 


Commission on (1899), 61-62 
Dette d' Education, 281 
Enseignmcnt sptcial, 6 1 
Expenditure, national, on, 188 



Education (continued) 

Ferry laws (1881 and 1882), 61, 

119, 189, 220 
Fete of, 119 
Girls, of 

Convent schools for, 52, 186-187, 

English and German compared 

with, 219 

Lycees for, 220 ; Lyce*e Fenelon, 
221-225 ; Lycee at Toulouse, 
225-226 ; ceremonial visits to 
principals, 288-289 
Nature of, 52-53, 216 
Gratuitous, compulsory and secular, 

30, 119, 185, 220 

Maison paternelle, in, 231, 234-235 
Men and women engaged in, 101- 


Boys, for : see subheading Boys 
Communal colleges, 189 
Convent, 52, 186-187, 2I 9 
Fees at, 21, 26, 27 
Napoleon's influence on, 60 
State, number of teachers in 

(1900), 101 

Science, instruction in, 222, 224 
Village schoolmasters, 185-190 
Emancipation, 251 

English people, misrepresentation by, 
253-254, 292-293 ; misrepresenta- 
tion of, 265, 292-293 
English words, adoption of, 297 
English-speaking, 43 
Entente cordiale, 298-300 
Entertainment, delicacy in, 7 
Betrothals, of, 82, 166 
Difference in, 7-9 
New Year's, 285-290 
Servants, among, in 
Spinsters, for, 99, 102-104 
Weddings, of, 84-85 
Wine, as to, 5 
Works on, 7 

" Eugenie Grandet," 272, 277-278 
Euphemisms, 257-258 
Expenditure, tables of 

Parisian, 21, 27, 32 

Provincial, 26, 30, 32 

FABRE, FERDINAND, cited, 133 
Family council 

Books on, 251 

Constitution of, 242 

Formalities of, 243-244 

Functions of, 245-251 

Origin and history of, 239-242 
" Fanny," 269 

Flaubert cited, 126, 130, 268 
Flirtation, non-existence of, 56, 166- 

167, 273 

" Femmes Nouvelles," 82, 100 
Ferry laws (1881-1882), 61, 119, 189, 


Feval, Paul, 269 

Explanation of, 271-272 

Falseness of, 268-269, 2 7* 

Market for, 270 

Material of, 273 

Novels with a purpose, 274-275 
Figaro, 136 
Fion, M., cited, 295 
First communion, 79 
Foundlings, 247 
Food, cost of in Paris, 21-22, 34; in 

the provinces, 27, 30 
Fouillee, M., cited, 230 and note, 

253 ; quoted, 263, 296 
Foville, A. de, cited, 36, 129 note 
France, Anatole, 262 
" France and her Republic," 293 
Franche-Comte, driving tour in, 41 
Franchise : see Suffrage 
" French and English," 264, 292 
Fuel, 18, 23, 30 
Furnishing, finality of, 17 
Furniture, 4 





French fiction in, 270 

Military ruffianism in, 73 
Gifts, etiquette as to, 82-83, 286-287 
Gilbert, M., 235 
Girls (see also Spinsters) 

Dowries of, 47, 81, 90-91, 100, 194 

Dress of, 25 

Education of: see under Education 

Fiction for, 55, 273 

Ideal of, 57 

Matrimonial arrangements for, 56- 

57, 79 

Training of, 51, 53-55, 85 
Got, 182 

Granier, Dr., 116 
Gregoire, Abbe, 115 
Grevy, Jules, 95 
Guardians, 250-251 

HAMERTON, P. G., home of, 188, 
255 ; notice on door of, 257 ; con- 
trasted with M. Boutmy, 264 ; on 
hostility between France and Eng- 
land, 291-292 

Hanotaux, M., cited, 122, 220, 271 

Herbalism, 127 

" Histoire de la Civilization Fran- 
caise," 280, 294 

Holidays from home 
Discomforts of, attitude towards, 


Family gatherings, 24, 37 
Manner of spending, 37-38 
Seaside, at, 38-39 
Varieties of, 36 

Home, sanctity of, 270 

Home industries, 33, 154, 174, 206 

Homologation, 245 

Hors (fceuvres, 28-29 

Horseflesh, 34 

Delicacy in, 7 

Lack of means for, 20, 25, 28 
Restaurants, in, 24 

Hotel-keeping, 218 

Hotels, discomforts of, 40-41 


Easy-going view of, 18-19 
Expenses of : see Expenditure 

Housework, men employed in, 2, 16, 


House-parties, 42-43 
Houses, ownership of, by occupiers, 

36, 194 

Hurlbert cited, 293 

Imbeciles, 248 

Officials, of, 20 

Various, in Rheims, 31 
Industries, home, 33, 154, 174, 206 
Interments, 212 

JEWS, electoral rights of, 1 19 
Juges de paix 

Family councils, duties as to, 243- 

245 J 

Functions of, 155-156 
Remuneration of, 155, 162 
Sittings of, 157 
Justine, 108-109, 127-128 

KOCK, PAUL DE, 46, 261 

" LA Course au Flambeau," 96, 168, 


" La Source Fatal e," 275 
"LaTerre," 192, 195, 196 
" L'Abbe Tigrane," 133 
Languages, teaching of, 64, 66, 224 
Larrey, Surgeon, 207-208 
Laughter, 261-262 
Lavisse quoted, 61 
Law, bearing of, on private life, 246 
" Le Colosse aux pieds d'argile," 29 
" Le journal d'une femme de cham> 

bre," 269, 271 

"Le Medecin de Campagne," 126 
Leclerc, Max, cited, 295 
Lemaitre, Jules, 147 



Lemire, Abbe, 116 

" L'e'nergie Fran9aise," 271 

"Les Rempla9antes," 46, 184, 297 

Les Sables D'Olonne, 39 

Letter-writing, style of, 9 

" L'Evangeliste," 147 


" L'Immortel," 269 

Lingerie, 173-175 

Lion Rouge, le, patronne of, 215- 


Literature, knowledge of, 158, 214 
Loti, Pierre, cited, 293 
Loubet, M., 97 
Louis XIV., 7 

"L'Un vers L'Autre," 102, 147 
Lunatics, 249, 264 note 

Dtjeuner so called, 5, 6, 14, 201, 

Formality of, 5-6 

Tea so called, 6 

" Madame Bovary," 126, 130, 268 
" Mademoiselle Annette," 272 
Maiden ladies : see Spinsters 
Maison de Retraite, 103-104 
Manufactures, etc., superior finish of, 

Margueritte Brothers cited, 82, 100, 

266 note, 297 
Marketing, 13, 15 
Markham, Mrs., cited, 293 
Marriages (see also Wives) 

Arrangement of, by outsiders, 79- 

Betrothals, interval after, 57, 82 

Bourgeois ideas of, 204 

Ceremonies of, 83-86 

Civil, 83-84 

Clannishness in regard to, 38, 77, 


Contracts of, ancient, 194 
Ecclesiastical, 84-86 
Formalities antecedent to, 80-82 

Marriages (continued) 

Parental consent, law as to, 78 
Partnership, regarded as, 56, 58, 

81, 266 

Reputation essential to, 87 
Settlements, 80-81, 91, 278 
Success of, 57 

Wife's property, control of, 279, 

Martin, Henri, 294 

Match-making, 56, 78-79 

Matches, 23 

Medicines, cost of, 23-24 

Merimee, Prosper, cited, 295 

Mettray, Maison Paternelle at, 227- 


Michelet quoted, 64, 90, 290 
Mignet cited, 161 
Minors, 246-247, 249-251 
Mirrors, 3 
Mohammedanism, State subsidy of, 

134, 141 

Montaigne cited, 163 
Montesquieu cited, 260 

Autocratic rule of, 92 

Devotion of, 94, 95 
Mourning, 31 
Musical schools, 183 

NAPOLEON I., provisions of, as to 
education, 60 ; sum allotted by, to 
education, 188 ; tax - collection 
scheme of, 160-161 ; poor-relief 
scheme of, 198 ; army-surgeon of, 

Napoleon III., 241 

New Year's gifts, 24, 285-287 

Ney, Marshal, 207 

Nodier, Charles, 47 ; cited, 161 


Deputies, as, 116 
Importance of, 80-8 1, 90 

Nottingham lace, demand for, 175 

Novels : see Fiction 

Novikoff, M., cited, 270 




Aristocratic spinsters as, 100 
Bon Pasteur institutions of, 198 
Medical skill of, 126-128 
Schools conducted by, 186-187 

Nurseries, impossibility of, 49 

Nurses of children 
Custom of employing, 95 
Legislation against employing, 46 
Position, wages, and costume of, 45 

Nurses of the sick, 209 

Characteristics of, 120-121, 123- 


Burial of retired, 212 
Debt prohibited to, 81, 121 
Duties of, 123-124, 210 
Marriage regulations for, 41, 122 
Mufti allowed to, 120, 288 

Incomes of, 20 
Proportion of, 93 
Simplicity of life of, 148, 1 59 

Ohnet cited, 176 

O'Rell, Max, cited, 296 

Orphans, 246-247 

Out-of-door life, 179, 204 


Consent of, to marriage, law as to, 

Support of, obligatory on children, 

196, 198, 280 

Boulevards of, 204, 208 

Conservatoire, 181-182 

Cost of living in, 22 and note 

Flats in, limits of, 16, 49 

Fruit barrows in, 13 

Lycee Fenelon, le, 221-225 

Rents in, 30, 32 

Restaurant-keeping in, 200-206 

Sentitr, le, 172, 200, 203, 206 

Suburbs of, 176 

Paris (continued) 

Wages in, 23 

Work-a-day quarters of, 179 
Pastors, protestant 

Boarders received by, 141-142, 147 

Chamber, not represented in, 115 

Homes of, 141-142 

Numbers and sects of, 147 
Peacock, T. L., cited, 253-254 

Difference between English and 
French, 191 

Dignity of, 199 

Education valued by, 186 

Financial condition of, 32 

Hospitality of, 192, 197 

Houses of, 109 

Position of, unique, 191, 194, 199 

Progressiveness of, 186, 194 

Shrewdness and thrift of, 199 

Wills and inventories of, 192-194 

Wives, position of, 32 
Phylloxera, 151, 195 
Pontseverez, M., cited, 275 
Poor, the 

Asiles for, 198 

Rates not levied for, 162 

State relief of, 198 
Poullaine, Jean de la, cited, 293 
Prefailles, 40 
Presents : see Gifts 
Priests, Roman Catholic 

Deputies, as, 115-116 

Dress of, 137 

English fiction regarding, 274 

Hospitality to, 138 

Political views of, 139 

Position of, 133 

Sphere of influence of, 92 

Stipends of, 135 
Promeneuses, 52 
Prud'hommes, 178 and note 
Prussian war indemnity 

Amount of, equalled by phylloxera 
ruin, 151, 195 

Payment of, 112, 170, 192 



Puritanism and Reformation, 261, 
270, 296 


Rambaud, M., cited on country 
houses, 8 ; on baths, 10-1 1 ; on 
tax-collectors, 161 ; on English 
humanity, 264 note; on English 
relations with France, 294 

Reading clubs, 30 

Recitation, 42-43, 54 

Reformatories for boys 
Citeaux, agricultural penitentiary 

at, 237 
Mettray, Maison Pater nelle at, 227- 


Religions, State support of, 134, 141 
Comparison of, in Paris and pro- 
vinces, 30, 32 

Rise in, 21 

Republic, origin of title, 90 
Reputation, care for, 20, 52, 87, 104, 


Charges at, 34, 201 

Hospitality at, 24 

Tea, 6, 12 

Waiters in, 203 
Retirement, bourgeois ideal of, 205, 


Rtvdllon supper, 288 
Revolution, history of, 294 
Ribot, M., cited, 62 
Riches, 35, 129, 130 
Rod, Edouard, cited, 272 
R8tisseurs t 29 ; of restaurants, 202 
Russia, French fiction in, 270 

Saffray, Dr., cited, 127 
St. Georges-de-Didonne, 40 
St. Just, 161 

Sand, George, 60 ; cited, 191, 195, 


Certificates of, 190 

Pay of, 189 

Village, position of modern, 186 ; 

former, 187-188, 190 
Schools of agriculture, 149. (See also 

under Education) 

Instruction in, 222, 224 

Interest in, 265 
Seaside holidays, 38-39 
Seminarists as conscripts, 137, 209 
Senators, remuneration of, 117 
" Serge Panine," 176 

Address by, form of, 9-10 

Breakfast customs of, 12 

Breton, 189 

Discomforts of, 106-107, no 

Etiquette among, in 

Freedom enjoyed by, 107-108 

Hiring of, at fairs, 188 

Marketing by, 13, 15 

Married, 46, 280 

Men as indoor, 2, 1 6, 105 

Number of, kept, 16; 

Obligingness of, III 

Sleeping quarters of, 106, 108- 

Sumptuary laws as to, 69 

Thrift of, 111-112 

Wages of, 22-23, 108-109 ; of 

nurses, 45 

Signature with title, 8 
Shop Seats Act, 282 
Shopping, 13, 15 
Smoking, 6 

" Sociologie Objective," 295 
Age determining, 99-100, 165 

Attitude towards, 104 

Conventional restrictions on, 55, 99 

Professions occupied by, 101-102 
Estimate of, 183 

Lessons inculcated by, 95-96, 183 



Stephens, Morse, cited, 294 

Sentiment as to, 92 
Various forms of, 118-119 

Sunday extras, 28 

Tax-collection, method of, 161 

Former, 160-161 

Juges de paix contrasted with, 155, 

Remuneration of, 162 

Directes, 21, 162 ; window tax, 
162, 1 80 

Indirectes, 162 
" Tchevelek," 86 
Tea restaurants, 6, 12 
" Terre qui meurt," 195 
Thierry, G. M. A., cited, 264 
Thiers cited, 115 
Third person singular, 9-10 
" Thou " and " thee," 9, 209, 260 
Tips, 24 

Toilette, care for, 20, 25, 26, 263 
Toulouse, lycee at, 225-226 
Trade : see Commerce 
" Travail," 176 
Travel, French companionship for, 

40, 213, 215 
" Trilby," 47 
Trousseaux, 86-87 

14 UNE ame obscure," 269, 271 
United States of America 

Wear and tear in, 93, 258 

Women's position in, 57 
Uzanne, Octave, cited, 196 

VAI.-DE-GRACE, church and hospital 

of, 207-209 
Vandam, Mr., 293 
Vanves, lycee of, 62 
Visiting-cards, 289-290 

Visitors, staying, scarcity of, 16 
Visits : see Calls 


Domestic in Paris, 33 ; in Bur- 
gundy, 108-109 
Industrial, in Rheims, 31 
Nurses, of, 45 
Watch Night supper, 288 
Waugh, Rev. B., 247 
Wedding presents, 82-83, 86 
Weddings : see Marriages 
Widows, position of, 81, 277-278 
Wills, restrictions as to, 282-283 
Window tax, 162, 180 
Children drinkers of, 48 
Conscripts prohibited from, 71 
Etiquette for offering, 5 

Companionableness of, 19 
Officers', 41 

Position of, 32, 58, 59, 89, 90 
Property of, under control of 

husbands, 17, 279, 280 
Women (see also Mothers, Spinsters, 

Capacity of, 165, 167, 173, 177, 

200, 213, 218 
Life of, 1 68 

Remuneration of, 169-170 
Seats for, in shops, 282 
Code Civil in relation to, 178, 243, 

246, 278, 279, 281 
Convents, in (1900), 101 
Emigration of, 95 
Foreign residence disliked by, 94, 


Individualism of, 93-94 
Laws in favour of, 178 
Management, capacity for, 89-90, 


Merchants, as, 172-178 
Ouvrieres, Parisian, 174 

310 INDEX 

Women (continued) 
Palais Bourbon, accommodation at, 

for, 117 

Professional, 101-103 
Professions open to, 281 
Prominence of, in French history, 


Women (continued) 
Sacerdotalism of, 92 
Schoolmistresses, pay of, 189 
Smoking not a habit of, 6 
Widows, 8l, 277-278 

ZOLA cited, 176, 191, 196, 199, 274 










































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THE GOD IN THE CAR. Tenth Edition. 

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It is a perfectly enchanting story of love and chivalry, and pure romance. The Count 
SSl^ ^ d B ? deSt and - tender { ^ers, a peerless gentleman 

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Time's* Wn contrasts of his women with marvellous subtlety and delicacy. 1 
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>pect(i tor* 
QUISANTE. Fourth Edition. 

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W. W. Jacobs' Novels 

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MANY CARGOES. Twenty-Seventh Edition, 

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A MASTER OF CRAFT. Illustrated. Sixth Edition. 

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' The best humorous book published for many a day.' Black and White. 
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' A picture finely and amply conceived. In the strength and insight in which the story 
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the great novel of a great writer. 1 Literature. 

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MRS. FALCHION. Fifth Edition. 

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WHEN VALMOND CAME TO PONTIAC : The Story of a Lost Napoleon. Fifth 

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THE HUMAN BOY. With a Frontispiece. Fourth Edition. 

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THE STRIKING HOURS. Second Edition. 

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THE RIVER. Third Edition. 

'"The River" places Mr. Phillpotts in the front rank of living novelists.' Punch. 
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mingham Gazette. 

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' This great romance of the River Dart. The finest book Mr. Eden Phillpotts has written. ' 
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THE SECRET WOMAN. Second Edition. 



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ROYAL GEORGIE. Illustrated. 

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IN DEWISLAND. Second Edition. 

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f HE WOMAN^WITH^THE FAN. Fifth Edition. 


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A WINTER'S TALE. A New Edition. 


trated. 3.1. dd. 

trated, y. 6</. 

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ling Novels. 

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A BRANDED NAME. Crown Zvo. 6s. 
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CrOker (B. M.). See paga 35 . 

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Doyle (A. Conan), Author of 'Sherlock Holmes, 1 'The White Company,' etc. ROUND 

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CANS. Illustrated. Third Edition. CrownSvo. 6s. 
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Fitzpatllck(K.) THE WEANS AT ROWALLAN. Illustrated. Crmvntoo. 6s. 

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DAVID MARCH. Crown Svo. 6s. 

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Fraser (Mrs. Hugh), Author of 'The Stolen Emperor.' THE SLAKING OF THE 

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HOLY MATRIMONY. Second Edition. CrownSvo. 6s. 
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THE CROWN OF LIFE. Crown Svo. 6s. 

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Herbertson (Agnes G.). PATIENCE DEAN. Crown Svo. 6s. 
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fipp nncrft oc. 

ustrated. Crown Svo. 6s. 
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Jacobs (W. WA See page 33. 

James (Henry). Se page 36. 

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Lawson (Harry), Author of 'When the Billy Boils.' CHILDREN OF THE BUSH. 

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Levett- YeatS (S.). ORRAIN. Second Edition. Crmvn Svo. 6s. 
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Linton (E. Lynn). THE TRUE HISTORY OF JOSHUA DAVIDSON, Christian and 

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SIXTY "JANE . Crow* BVO. 6s. 

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Malet (Lucas). See page 33. 
Mann (Mrs. M. E.). See page 36. 

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GARNERED. Crown Svo. 6s. 
A DUEL. CrtnunSvo. 6s. 
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'Q,' Author of 'Dead Man's Rock.' THE 'N 


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ENCOURAGED by the great and steady sale of their Sixpenny Novels, Messrs. Methuen have 
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NOVELS.' These books are well printed and well bound in cloth, and the excellence of their 
quality may be gauged from the names of those authors who contribute the early volumes of 
tne series. . ..... 

Messrs. Methuen would point out that the books are as good and as long as a six shilling 
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They feel sure that the public will appreciate such good and cheap literature, and the books can 
be seen at all good booksellers. 

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Adeline Sergeant. A GREAT LADY. 

H. B. Marriott- Watson. THE SKIRTS OF HAPPY CHANCF.. 
Bullock (Shan F.). THE BARRYS. 

Gissing (George). THE CROWN OF LIFE. 
Francis (M. E.). MISS ERIN. 

Sutherland (Duchess of). ONE HOUR AND THE NEXT. 
Burton ( J. Bloundelle). ACROSS THE SALT SEAS. 
Oliphant (Mrs.). THE PRODIGALS. 
Balfour (Andrew). VENGEANCE IS MINE. 


Barr (Robert), Author of ' The Countess Tekla. THE VICTORS. 

Penny (Mrs. F. A.). A MIXED MARRIAGE. 

Hamilton (Lord Ernest). MARY HAMILTON. 

Glanville (Ernest). THE LOST REGIMENT. 

Benson (E. F.), Author of ' Dodo.' THE CAPSINA. 


Findlater (J. H.), Author of 'The Green Graves of Balgowrie. 1 A DAUGHTER OF 


Clifford (Mrs. W. K.). A WOMAN ALONE. 
Pnillpotts (Eden). FANCY FREE. 

Books for Boys and Girls. 

Crown %vo. 3^. 6d. 

W. K. Clifford. Illustrated by Gordon- 
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LITTLE PETER. By Lucas Malet. Second 

By W. 


Clark Russell. 

the Author of " Mdlle. Mori." 
SYD BELTON : Or, the Boy who would not go 

to Sea. By G. Manville Fenn. 
THE RED GRANGE. By Mrs. Molesworth. 
HEPSY GIPSY. By L. T. Meade. zs. 6d. 
THE HONOURABLE Miss. By L. T. Meade. 

The Novels of Alexandre Dumas. 

Price 6d. Double Volume, is. 

Introduction by Andrew Lang, 


ROBIN HOOD. A Sequel to the above. 




TWENTY YEARS AFTER. Double volume. 








Part I. Louis de la Valliere. Double 

Part II. The Man in the Iron Mask. 

Double Volume. 



Chevalier d'Harmental. 

Illustrated Edition. 


Colour by Frank Adams. vs. 6d. 
THE PRINCE OF THIEVES. Illustrated in 

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ROBIN HOOD THE OUTLAW. Illustrated in 

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A. Orr. 
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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. Illustrated in Colour 
by Frank Adams. 3^. 

AMAURY. Illustrated in Colour by Gordon 
Browne, ss. 

trated in Colour by Frank Adams, as. 

Illustrated in Colour by Frank Adams. 

trated in Colour by Gordon Browne. 

*THE CASTLE OF EPHSTEIN. Illustrated in 
Colour by Stewart Orr. 

*ACTE. Illustrated in Colour by Gordon 

trated in Colour by D. Murray Smith. 

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*THE WOLF-LEADER. Illustrated in Colour 
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